The use of robots in the care sector is a frequently discussed future scenario that brings up different expectations. The percentage of older people will increase significantly in the future. On one hand, there is hope that robots could support humans in living an independent life in their familiar surroundings until old age. On the other hand, the idea of replacing human with robot care workers leads to worries about the increasing social isolation of people in need of care, due to a lack of human contact. This relates to the fundamental question of what tasks in the care sector robots are able and will be able to take on in the near future.
A central goal of the CaringRobots project is to study the possible roles robots and related technologies can assume in the complex context of care – with a focus on mobile care. Achieving this goal requires a transdisciplinary approach to research questions from the fields of robotics, social sciences and informatics. Involving people and institutions from the practical context, such as carers, clients, relatives, interest groups, the public and political representatives is critical. The collected experiences and suggestions will play an important part in the development of the technological solutions. The project team will develop theoretical concepts and test them as prototypes in real-life environments of stationary and mobile long-term care. The needs of older people and the factors that contribute to a sensible implementation of robotics in the care sector are at the heart of the project. The project is carried out by a group of interdisciplinary researchers, Caritas Wien and the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology.