Demographic change is expected to challenge many societies in the next few decades if todays’ standards of services in e.g. elder care shall be maintained. Robots are considered to at least partially mitigate this challenge, however, robots are rarely applied in the welfare domain. This paper describes the development of a concept for a novel welfare robot that is modular and affordable. The development is based on a participatory design process and by taking strengths and limitations of selected, commercially available robots into account. This work contributes a design methodology specific for welfare robots and a resulting robot concept that address three use cases in a care center. The concept includes multi-modal robot perception that facilitates a proactive robot behavior for achieving smooth interactions with end-users.
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The authors would like to thank the staff and residents at Ølby elderly care center for the fruitful discussions and valuable insights that have been shared. We would also like to thank Mobile Industrial Robots, Fraunhofer Institute, Softbanks Robotics and PAL Robotics for letting us use images of their robots.
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This research was part of the SMOOTH project (project number 6158-00009B) by Innovation Fund Denmark.
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Juel, W.K., Haarslev, F., Ramírez, E.R. et al. SMOOTH Robot: Design for a Novel Modular Welfare Robot. J Intell Robot Syst 98, 19–37 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10846-019-01104-z