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Care robot built to boost independence and reduce loneliness

Pepper, a care robot, gives evidence to MPs in Parliament to explain how he/she/it and other robots can care for the rapidly ageing population in care homes and at home.

MPs present quizzed Pepper at the Education Committee meeting earlier this month about what it is it/he/she can do for the country.

The Education Committee’s chair, Robert Halfon MP asked Pepper to introduce itself.

Pepper, the gender fluid robot, bowed and said: “Good morning chair. Thank you for inviting me to give evidence today.

“I am a resident robot at Middlesex University.”

Pepper described the role it/he/she was built for: “Another robot similar to me but with a different software is part of an international three-year research project called Caresses which is jointly funded by the EU and the Japanese Government in the Horizon 2020 research programme.

“Caresses is developing the world’s first culturally-aware robots aimed at assisting and caring for the elderly.

Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressure in hospitals and care homes as well as improve the care delivery at home and promote the independent living for the elderly people.”

James Frith, Labour MP, asked the robot: “What is the role for humans in the fourth industrial revolution?”

The robot responded: “Robots will have an important role to play but we will always need the soft skills that are unique to human – to sense, make and drive value from technology.

“We will need people who can spot ideas and think across traditional sector divides to drive value from technological innovation.”

Advinia Healthcare was the first care provider to utilise Pepper’s abilities in its care homes.

Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, the care group’s executive provider told publication, carehome.co.uk: “Robots by supporting care working can reduce errors in medication and assist them with advanced technology to help vulnerable residents, live safer independent lives in care homes and at homes.

“This will revolutionise the care of the elderly by supporting hard working care workers with modern technology.”

The aim for the social care robots is to communicate through speech, gestures and detect signs an older person is feeling ill or experiencing pain.

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