The government has revealed plans to invest £34million to develop ‘care robots’ capable of providing support for Britons and making care responsibilities easier.
The care robots would be designed to provide the adult social care sector with more assistance for those who need it most – with one in seven people in the UK now expected to be over 75 by 2040.
The work is being carried out as part of the UK’s biggest research programme, dedicated to making autonomous systems safe and trustworthy for public use. The idea is that one day in the future, robots could help an elderly person up after a fall, raise an alarm, deliver food to an older person at mealtimes and ensure people take their medication at the right time.
The care robots would need to be protected against cyber attacks and demonstrate principals such as respect, fairness and equality, enabling them to be used in a care setting.
The announcement followed hot on the heels of a previous government investment in a Bristol-based project which developed a prototype of a robot called CHIRON – designed to support older adults with mobility and other impairments.
While some care homes, such as Mayfield House in Crewe and Samuel Hobson House in Newcastle, have already embraced some technologies such as Virtual Reality headsets, using care robots is something vastly different.
Victoria Sylvester, managing director of Acacia Training and registered nurse, said: “Although care robots may seem a bit radical at the moment, the reality is that we have a series of recruitment and funding challenges in the sector, which means that care robots are one of the solutions being tested.
“Ultimately, we have the technology already to revolutionise the care sector from robots who have to perform exact and precise surgery on patients to technology like the care robot. Like it or not, technology will be a significant part of our care sector in the future and I believe we need to be open minded to the possibilities and embrace change where change is for the better.”
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