Care Robots could be used in the UK care system after a study found they can improve mental health and have the potential to reduce loneliness in vulnerable older people.
The wheeled robots, called “Pepper” was tested in care homes and researchers found adults who used the robot for up to 18 hours across two weeks, saw a notable improvement in their mental health.
After two weeks, there was also a small but positive impact on people’s feelings of loneliness, the study by the University of Bedfordshire, Middlesex University, and Advinia Health Care.
Pepper can engage in and keep up a conversation and learn about people’s habits and tastes.
Researchers are now working to roll out the technology in care homes in the UK.
The study’s lead author, Dr Chris Papadopoulos from the University of Bedfordshire, said the research was “ground-breaking”.
“The results show that using Caresse’s artificial intelligence in robots such as Pepper has real potential benefit to a world that is witnessing more people living longer with fewer people to look after them,” said Dr Chris Papadopoulos from the University of Bedfordshire.
“Poor mental health and loneliness are significant health concerns, and we have demonstrated that robots can help alleviate these.”
According to the charity Age UK, there are 1.4 million lonely older people in England and many more across the rest of the UK.