Public needs convincing that robots can improve their quality of life
New research shows that the majority of the UK public is yet to recognise the potential for robots to improve quality of life for themselves or their ageing relatives.
A survey of 2,023 online GB adults aged 16-75 for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) shows that, despite an ageing population and pressure on social care budgets, only a third of respondents (33 per cent) say they would consider the use of a robot to assist an elderly or disabled relative.
17 per cent say they would not consider using robots, which could be used for a range of basic everyday tasks from cooking and cleaning to dispensing medicines and helping with mobility.
Meanwhile, less than one in three (29 per cent) say they would consider using a robot themselves for these tasks. And 28 per cent say they would not consider using a robot to assist them.
William Webb, IET President, said: "Robots have been steadily gaining in capability over the last decade and as technology becomes much smarter, robotics is set to become a bigger part of our future.
"Robots have the potential to play a crucial role in improving the lives of people, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities, right across the world. But we need to make people aware of the huge benefits robotics can provide while addressing their concerns about loss of personal contact and a natural reluctance to embrace new technologies so that we can make smarter use of this technology to help people manage health conditions and stay independent for longer.
"From the helper in the home, to machines that provide social care for the sick or elderly, the race is on to produce new breeds of robotic machines that can help us address many of the problems we face in the modern world."
Healthcare is a particularly important area of robotics research, not least because the converging challenges of an ageing population and increasing demands on health budgets mean that providers will require new ways to deliver care cost effectively.
Solutions range from automated trolleys or wheelchairs through to health monitoring systems, automated surgical equipment and humanoid 'nurse robots'.