Some films — “Robot and Frank,” “I, robot” cartoon — shows a futurein which robotic servants do the work of maids, nurses, nannies, caregivers, enabling families to spend more time together, and elderly people to remain independent longer. The future of robot caregivers closer than we could imagine. Robotic vacuum cleaners and robotic lawn mowers are already available, and in Japan there is a boom of assistive technologies for elderly care.
Not so long ago the robot of the University of middlesex Pepper presented before the parliamentary Committee of great Britain to answer questions about the role of robots in education.
Robotic guardians, on the other hand, is a relatively recent phenomenon. As people live longer, a growing number of elderly people requiring assistance in everyday life. However, the lack of available carers means that in the near future we are quite waiting for a crisis to care for adults. In Japan, it is estimated that in 2025 will be missed 370 000 people care.
While current assistive technology is still far from a future where our meals are prepared for yourself, and all the household chores we do not touch, why don’t we try to see what that future is.
Robots for the house
Most robots are currently widely used in heavy industry and in manufacturing, where the dangerous and repetitive tasks are best performed using automated systems. However, these are not tired of industrial not designed to work in the presence of people, since moving fast and made of solid materials that can cause injury.
Modern “collaborative robots”, or kobota, as they are called, are made with stiff joints and connections. Working in close proximity to people, they move with limited speed, not to harm anyone.
However, the next generation of collaborative robots will be made of softer materials such as rubber, silicon or fabric. “These robots are inherently safe, due to the properties of the materials from which they are made,” says Helg Wurdemann, robotics from University College London. “This kind of soft robots with controllable stiffness needs to achieve precision and repetition of existing chobotov and at the same time, to ensure safe interaction with people.”
One of the biggest problems is that the navigation system for interacting with humans, robots are not yet fully developed. They work to a certain extent, but easily get confused — like robotic vacuum cleaners, which can not return to the charging station. In a simple laboratory environment, the robots can determine the best route, but in real conditions, in a house full of tables, chairs and other stuff, it’s completely different.
“Many of these algorithms have been developed in the laboratory and are relatively simple in comparison with the confusion and activity of people in a real house,” explains Nicola Bellotto, Informatik Lincoln University and technical Manager of Enrichme, a project which tries to build robots to care and monitoring the elderly.
Robots also do not quite cope with rough terrain, and some with stairs. In 2017, the Autonomous robot security in Washington drowned after falling from ladder in office the fountain. Safe operation in the presence of children and animals also can be a problem, as demonstrated in 2016, when the robot security knocked the kid in the Mall in the Silicon valley after the child ran towards him.
Coordination of movement in response to sensory information is also a problem for robots, which limits their ability to interact with the environment. Robots can not cope with the tasks that most people and even dogs sometimes it is easy to manage — for example, to catch the ball.
This is due to the incredible number of factors that must be considered and which may overload the Autonomous system and cause errors. “From the point of view of machine learning, most of the decisions person are easier to make than the robot,” says Diane cook, co-Director of the artificial intelligence Lab at the University of Washington. “Some of the tasks that are mentally challenging, it is easier performed by a robot, while some simple movement for people is quite difficult for robots.”
Guardians of the uncanny valley
There is also a question of what do we want our robots-caregivers were similar to humans. There is the concept of the “uncanny valley”: when objects are very close, but still not to the end mimic human form and cause the most horror. Somewhere on the verge of moving there is something artificial that just alienates us from humanoid robots. Instead, like the robotic vacuum cleaners in our homes, robots can be aesthetically designed in accordance with their functions.
“The more he looks like a man, the more the person under guardianship will resist the help of a robot. The robot will be useful only if the person under guardianship will take him.”
In some cases, non-humanoid robot may be just what you need. Robotic animals such as Paro are being used as Pets in homes of guardianship, which does not allow the presence of animals or an additional companion for people with senile dementia.
Many modern robots are functionally oriented, like robotic vacuum cleaners, and not multifunctional. Development of a robotic system to perform multiple functions can be difficult, especially if the tasks are not linked. At least in the near future we, most likely, there will be several robotic guardians that perform different functions. However, there is a problem: where we will store them until they are used?
Ultimately, robotic caregivers will be more likely to complement than to replace people caring for other people, because robotics will never replace the companionship of a man of flesh and blood. Even the most advanced simulation of a human robot will not be able to imitate a human exactly to a tee.