Robots in Healthcare
By 2050 one in four people in the United Kingdom will be over the age of 65. The NHS will be unable to cope with the likely increase in chronic illness.
To meet this challenge, health and local authority services must reconfigure, placing greater emphasis on community care and the effective use of technology. One promising technology is robotics.
Compared with humans, robots may be quicker to train, cheaper to maintain, easier to refuel and repair and less prone to be bored by repetitive tasks. They could help the elderly and chronically ill to remain independent, reducing the need for carers and the demand for care homes.
Robot care in Japan
Japan’s population is the most rapidly ageing in the world—30 million people, accounting for 25% of the population, are over the age of 65. Fortunately, its robots have progressed since the mechanical “karakuri” or tea serving robots entertained the Victorians. It now has about 44% of the world's industrial robots and is applying that expertise to healthcare.
Though about 15 years from deployment in healthcare, Honda’s ASIMO (standing for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility) is one of the most advanced bipedal robots in the world.
“ASIMO has been created as a new form of mobility. In the long term, it should allow you to execute a task without having to move yourself,” says William de Braekeleer of Honda Motor Europe Ltd. “It is useful to mention that we see ASIMO as a help to the nurse, taking care of the "heavy" part of their tasks, allowing them to spend more time with the patient.”
Robots could help in the care of the elderly and chronically ill in four main ways:
Now read Robot Revolution: cyber healthcare.
The picture of ASIMO is by kind permission of Honda Motor Europe Ltd.