Robots for Elderly Care in the Home: A Landscape Analysis and Co-Design Toolkit

Bardaro, Gianluca; Antonini, Alessio and Motta, Enrico (2021). Robots for Elderly Care in the Home: A Landscape Analysis and Co-Design Toolkit. International Journal of Social Robotics (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-021-00816-3

Abstract

Over the last two decades, several deployments of robots for in-house assistance of older adults have been trialled. However, these solutions are mostly prototypes and remain unused in real-life scenarios. In this work, we review the historical and current landscape of the field, to try and understand why robots have yet to succeed as personal assistants in daily life. Our analysis focuses on two complementary aspects: the capabilities of the physical platform and the logic of the deployment. The former analysis shows regularities in hardware configurations and functionalities, leading to the definition of a set of six application-level capabilities (exploration, identification, remote control, communication, manipulation, and digital situatedness). The latter focuses on the impact of robots on the daily life of users and categorises the deployment of robots for healthcare interventions using three types of services: support, mitigation, and response. Our investigation reveals that the value of healthcare interventions is limited by a stagnation of functionalities and a disconnection between the robotic platform and the design of the intervention. To address this issue, we propose a novel co-design toolkit, which uses an ecological framework for robot interventions in the healthcare domain. Our approach connects robot capabilities with known geriatric factors, to create a holistic view encompassing both the physical platform and the logic of the deployment. As a case study-based validation, we discuss the use of the toolkit in the pre-design of the robotic platform for an pilot intervention, part of the EU large-scale pilot of the EU H2020 GATEKEEPER project.

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