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People fail to see robots as alternative to care for the old

Most people are reluctant when it comes to robots’ potential to improve the quality of life for the elderly or infirm, a survey has suggested, as robots are being developed for use in hospitals.

Just a third of people (33 per cent) said they would consider the use of a robot to assist an elderly or disabled relative, while 17 percent said they would not consider using robots at all, despite an aging population and pressure on social care.

As E&T news reported, robots are being developed for use in hospitals and to help people in their homes with tasks such as cooking and cleaning, dispensing medicine and helping with mobility.

Less than one in three people said they would consider using a robot themselves for these tasks and would also not consider using a robot to assist them.

William Webb, president of the IET, which commissioned the survey, said that healthcare is a particularly important area of robotics research as the increasing demands on health budgets mean that providers will require new ways to deliver care cost effectively.

Other technologies that can be put to use range from automated trolleys or wheelchairs through health monitoring systems, automated surgical equipment and humanoid nurse robots.

“Robots have the potential to play a crucial role in improving the lives of people, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities, Webb said.

“But we need to make people aware of the huge benefits robotics can provide while addressing their concerns about loss of personal contact and a natural reluctance to embrace new technologies so that we can make smarter use of this technology to help people manage health conditions and stay independent for longer.”

Although robots have been steadily gaining in capability in recent years people are yet to embrace futuristic technologies and fully comprehend the possible benefits that lie behind them.

Another divider of public opinion have been driverless cars, as E&T news reported, with only a quarter of men considering one and 16 per cent of women, after the UK government gave the go-ahead for the self-driving pods.

“I just cannot see myself in one of these. I would be too stressed out thinking something will go wrong,” a respondent of another survey said.

The IET survey questioned 2,023 adults.

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