Robot could help improve older people's quality of life

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Researchers at Hertfordshire University are developing a robotic system that they claim will be a suitable companion for older people.

Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian, a senior lecturer in Adaptive Systems and expert in Rehabilitation Robotics and Assistive Technologies at the university is co-ordinating a project called ACCOMPANY — Acceptable Robotics Companions for Ageing Years.

It is reported that a robot named Care-o-bot 3 will be used to carry out a wide range of studies with older people, in order to assess their requirements and acceptance of the robot as part of an intelligent home environment. Results will then be fed back to adapt the technology so that it better suits user demands and preferences.

‘The envisaged relationship between user and robot is that of co-learner, whereby the user and the robot provide mutual assistance — so that the user is not dominated by technology, but feels empowered by it,’ said Dr Amirabdollahian.

‘Our aim is to use the robot to increase independence and quality of life,’ he continued.

The three-year project will be conducted in the university’s Robot House.

ACCOMPANY is a €4,825,492 (£4,137,710) FP7 that began last month and is due to end by 30 September 2014.