Robotoic prototype offers social, collaborative care

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Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have developed a prototype of a social robot in the ACCOMPANY (Acceptable Robotics Companions for Ageing Years) project.

The robot uses the Care-O-bot 3 platform and works within a smart-home environment to support independent living for the elderly, working in partnership with their relatives or carers.

Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian, a senior lecturer in Adaptive Systems at the University, led a team of nine partner institutions from five European countries as part of the €4,825,492 project. Over the past three years, the team has carried out a range of studies in the University's Robot House, such as detecting the activity and status of people in a smart-home environment and the robots' ability to remember and recall.

Three evaluation by elderly people and their formal and informal carers were carried out across France, the Netherlands and the UK.

Results demonstrated that a social robot can potentially help to prevent isolation and loneliness, offering stimulating activities whilst respecting autonomy and independence.

Dr Amirabdollahian said: "This project proved the feasibility of having companion technology, while also highlighting . . . empathy, emotion, social intelligence as well as ethics and its norm surrounding technology for independent living"