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08. 01. 2008

Caregiver robots to take care of Japan's elderly?

caregiver-robot.jpg

This makes me so sad. Robots in general have always made me sad, and it only got worse after I saw AI. In movies, relationships with robots are often doomed, and remind us of that sorry state of being where you love something that can't love you back, whether the unrequited one is the human or the robot.

In Japan, they're developing robots to care for the elderly, in anticipation of the aging of the population, which will be 40% elderly by 2055. This inevitably means that many, many senior citizens in Japan will be living alone, which is hard to imagine, considering that in Asia today, adult children typically take care of elderly parents. The University of Tokyo is leading this project to create these helper robots as part of the Information and Robot Technology Research Initiative, in conjunction with Toyota Motor Corp. and other private companies.

The focus of the project is to develop sensor technology that would equate to the five human senses so that the robots can make physical contact with humans and respond to objects in the household environment. Development of tactile senses is crucial if these robots are to possess the keen sense of touch necessary for human interaction and handling of objects.

This project is forming the groundwork for a new and potentially enormous industry, but right now, it sounds like science fiction.

Via The Nikkei Weekly (subscription).

Posted by lydia    Category: culture | current affairs | devices
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