Assistive technology design and development for acceptable robotics companions for ageing years
Op Den Akker, R.
Gallego Perez, J.
Gelderblom, Gert Jan
A new stream of research and development responds to changes in life expectancy across the world. It includes technologies which enhance well-being of individuals, specifically for older people. The ACCOMPANY project focuses on home companion technologies and issues surrounding technology development for assistive purposes. The project responds to some overlooked aspects of technology design, divided into multiple areas such as empathic and social human-robot interaction, robot learning and memory visualisation, and monitoring persons’ activities at home. To bring these aspects together, a dedicated task is identified to ensure technological integration of these multiple approaches on an existing robotic platform, Care-O-Bot®3 in the context of a smart-home environment utilising a multitude of sensor arrays. Formative and summative evaluation cycles are then used to assess the emerging prototype towards identifying acceptable behaviours and roles for the robot, for example role as a butler or a trainer, while also comparing user requirements to achieved progress. In a novel approach, the project considers ethical concerns and by highlighting principles such as autonomy, independence, enablement, safety and privacy, it embarks on providing a discussion medium where user views on these principles and the existing tension between some of these principles, for example tension between privacy and autonomy over safety, can be captured and considered in design cycles and throughout project developments