Older adults are more willing to be cared for by robots than conventional wisdom suggests, according to new research.

Older Adults Want More Capable Robots

Researchers presented findings recently at the 53rd Annual Meeting of HFES that asked younger and older adults what functions they'd like robots to perform for them in their homes.

Older adults are more willing to be cared for by robots than conventional wisdom suggests, according to research done at Georgia Tech and highlighted Oct. 22 at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 53rd Annual Meeting in San Antonio. Given a choice between receiving care by a robot in their homes and moving to a care facility because of an illness or injury, 67 percent of younger adults and 77 percent of older adults chose the robot at home, Drs. Neta Ezer (now at Futron Corporation), Arthur D. Fisk, and Wendy A. Rogers found.

They had sent a questionnaire to 2,500 Atlanta-area adults ages 18-86 and received 177 responses. One of their questions addressed respondents' level of experience with technology and robots that do things such as mow, clean, guard, and entertain, according to an account posted on www.hfes.org.

Asked whether they are willing to have robots perform 15 tasks in the home, "respondents of all ages preferred that robots stick to noninteractive tasks (such as 'Help me with housework' or 'Bring me things I need from another room in my home') rather than interactive ones (for example, 'Have a conversation with me' or 'Help motivate me to exercise')," according to this article. "Infrequent critical tasks, such as 'Warn me about a danger in my home' or 'Inform my doctor if I have a medical emergency,' were seen by more older adults than younger ones as important for robots to perform." Their paper, "More Than a Servant: Self-Reported Willingness of Younger and Older Adults to Having a Robot Perform Interactive and Critical Tasks in the Home," is published in the Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 53rd Annual Meeting (pp. 136-140); contact senior author Dr. Neta Ezer (281-483-2226) or HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (310-394-1811).

On Oct. 20 during the Opening Plenary Session of the meeting, HFES announced the election of four fellows:

  • Daryle Gardner-Bonneau, principal, Bonneau and Associates
  • Andrew D. Le Cocq, human factors/ergonomics consultant
  • Michael E. Maddox, principal scientist, Sisyphus Associates, LLC
  • Susan K. Meadows, acting deputy director, Standards management Staff and Global Harmonization Coordination, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health

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