LIFEBOTS Exchange - creating a new reality of care and welfare through the inclusion of social robots.
The project aims enhancing cross-sector, international and interdisciplinary collaboration in the area of social robotics technology for care. Are robots ready for society, and is society ready for robots? How can social robots can be included in people’s lives? Robots are increasingly being used in the healthcare sector as a potential solution to the current and future challenges faced by the healthcare sector. Due to the global population ageing, by 2035 the world is projected to lack 12.9 million healthcare professionals (WHO: 2013). Social robots may benefit the quality life and wellbeing of patients, their families and healthcare professionals. Evidence and much of the needed knowledge are still lacking. Strong interdisciplinarity and cross-sectorial research and innovation activity is needed. A knowledge hub for social robotics will be created with a threefold aim: (1) To enhance the competencies of involved staff members, refining and focusing their skills; (2) To build a tri-sectoral network involving academia, industry and users of technology, and (3) to create an enduring network that will outlive the grant funding. The core of the project includes some of the strongest actors in international research, SMEs and user organisations, focusing on three activity lines: technological, sociological, care-and-welfare. To be able to understand the impact of introducing social robots in care, the three areas that will be affected by this technical evolution will be researched: (1) care provided as medical practice; this is the care given to patients in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres and other medical facilities. (2) residential care - this area refers to all care institutions accepting patient/clients as residents: elderly homes, nursing homes, special needs schools for children or adults, etc. (3) family care, investigating how social robots can be implemented in the home, and as a part of domestic life.