The ACCOMPANY project, Acceptable Robotic Companions for Ageing Years began in October 2011 & will last for 36 months. ACCOMPANY is trying to assist elderly people in maintaining their health and independence for longer through using a socially intelligent service robot. In this way we hope to delay the moment when elderly people will have to move out of their own homes into dedicated care homes, or will require intensive care, from other people.

How ACCOMPANY will contribute to independent living for the elderly

The project will consist of a robotic companion as part of an intelligent home environment. The principal aims of ACCOMPANY are to:

  • Provide services via a socially interactive, acceptable and empathic interaction
  • Provide physical, cognitive and social assistance in everyday home tasks, and contribute to the re-ablement of the user, i.e. assisting the user to be able to carry certain tasks on their own
  • Assess user acceptance of the robot and its surrounding intelligent environment
  • Establish a co-learner relationship, where robot and user can provide mutual assistance.
  • Provide an ethical framework to guide research in the area of robotics for personal assistance within the context of intelligent home environments

The developments mentioned above will be based on an existing robot prototype, the Care-O-bot® 3, to allow sufficient time for user testing and evaluation with the system.

The ACCOMPANY project has identified an important ‘niche’ in the eldercare market, a niche where we believe socially intelligent service robots can make a difference and will be beneficial to the users and healthcare providers as well as the industry. In addition to the social impact, the scientific impact of the project will be significant. New knowledge will be created in terms of user requirements and scenarios suitable for using services robots within everyday homes, and substantial technological advancements will result in intensive scientific dissemination. The impact of delaying the start of severe care interventions will benefit not only the elderly person themselves, but also their associated network of friends and family. It will also reduce costs to care providers and professional carers; who are able to focus their attention on those with acute and urgent needs.

ACCOMPANY is partially funded by the European Commission under the Seventh (FP7 – 2007-2013) Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

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