New Zealand Robot Researchers Seek Input From Elderly

Greg Galitzine : Robotics
Greg Galitzine

New Zealand Robot Researchers Seek Input From Elderly

When it came to developing robotic healthcare assistants for New Zealand's elderly population, researchers at The University of Auckland saw fit to include that demographic in a study to gauge the attitude of those who would be on the receiving end of a robot's care.


According to Dr Bruce MacDonald, head of the research group, "designers must first understand older people's attitudes and expectations of robots before they can be accepted."


The study, which was conducted at Selwyn Retirement Village in Pt. Chevalier asked residents, their families and staff for their input on what robots should be expected to do and even what they thought the mechanized assistants should look like.


The responses from each group reflected their perceived needs and expectations.


According to a release from The University of Auckland, residents would most like robots to assist with detecting falls, calling for help, switching on and off appliances, cleaning, making phone calls to a doctor or nurse, and reminding them to take their medications.


Residence staff ranked such tasks as measuring vital signs, general reminders, and locking the house at night as useful for robotic assistants.


As for how the healthcare robot should look? The preference was for a middle-aged robot with a clear voice, but the robot should not be too human-like. There was no preference for either a male or female form.

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