Mobiserv Social Companion Robot

Mobiserv is a collaborative European research project that seeks to design, develop, and evaluate beyond-state-of-the-art technology to support the independent living of older adults.


(Mobserv video)

The robot, a mobile wheeled semi-humanoid figure equipped with cameras, sensors, audio and a touch screen interface, can remind users to take their medicine, suggest they have their favorite drink or prompt them to go for a walk or visit friends if they haven’t been out for a while, and alert emergency services if something is amiss.

By monitoring user’s behavior, the robot can learn to approach users at appropriate times, talk to them or provide information via a touchscreen interface. Users can respond by talking back or using the touchscreen. It can offer suggestions such as “Are you feeling hungry?,” “Hey, don’t forget to take your pills in the blue box,” or “How about calling your friend today?”

The MOBISERV team created an easy-to-use interface to configure the robot so a carer, partner, family member — or someone else who knows the user well — can personalize it for their individual needs and preferences, setting everything from the robot and user’s name to the user’s preferred drink, their friends and the type of character the robot should have. In the future, the researchers also envision being able to customize the design and color of the robot.

In tests, “older people were extremely positive about the robot,” says Van den Heuvel. “They can see the benefits of the cognitive support it provides and also, if they live alone, they like the idea of having something they can interact with. For some, it’s almost like a pet with its own personality.”

Science fiction's own Philip K. Dick clearly imagined a version of this device in his 1953 story The Impossible Planet, which featured the robant:

Behind Norton came a withered old woman. Beside her moved a gleaming robant, a towering robot servant, supporting her with his arm. The robant and the tiny old woman entered the control room slowly...

"Irma Vincent Gordon," Andrews murmured. He glanced up. "Is that right?"

The old woman did not move.

"She is totally deaf, sir," the robant said.

From Mobiserv via Kurzweil AI.

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