Australian Scientists Are Developing 'Companion Robots' For The Elderly

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Australian researchers are developing robots to take care of the world’s ageing population.

Researchers from the University of Newcastle say there’s a growing demand for robotic technology in the aged care sector.

“A huge amount of them will be used in aged care,” robotics engineering PhD student Trent Houliston told Business Insider.

“There’s a lot of people are starting to get old and there’s not enough workers and staff so there’s going to be a lot of finding and interest in getting robots to take over some of the roles.”

One aspect of care Houliston said could be tackled by robots in the future is the role of a companion.

“They already have robots that try and do social interaction with people, have conversations, there are robots that can do that reasonably convincingly already so talking to people and just having a robotic companion, that’s something I think is likely to take off.

“There’s already trials and research happening into that area.”

Emotional robotics expert, Dr Aaron Wong said there is a lot of research into companion robots going on around the world.

“It’s especially relevant for Australia because of the increasing ageing population that we have,” he said.

“Companion robots are one of the key research areas of a lot of robotic researchers are concentrating on because they have a very good use for them.”

Wong said researchers are working on implementing emotions in robots to make them more pleasing for the users and are increasing environmental awareness so robots can sympathise.

He said while pilot experiments are underway, challenges still exist and companion robots are still a few years off.

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