University of Hertfordshire lecturer creates robot home helpers with a human touch

PUBLISHED: 15:09 15 February 2015

A social robot has been designed at the University of Hertfordshire to help elderly people who live alone.

A social robot has been designed at the University of Hertfordshire to help elderly people who live alone.


Science fiction could become reality if work being done by a team including a researcher from the University of Hertfordshire bears fruit.

Current Disney hit Big Hero 6 features a healthcare robot while the much-praised 2012 drama Robot & Frank starred Hollywood legend Frank Langella as a grumpy retired crook learning to love the robot butler his family insists he needs if he wants to continue living in his own home.

And those visions of man-made companions for the sick and elderly are a step closer to reality thanks to the work of a nine-strong team which has been working on a project to build a robot to support elderly people living independently.

Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian, a senior lecturer in adaptive systems at the university, has been working on the 4.8million Euro project to create robots that will allow us to stay in our homes as we age.

The proto-type robot he and his team designed uses software called Care-O-bot® 3 and works in a smart-home environment.

This is a home where there are a large amount of sensors which monitor where people go and what they do.

The ACCOMPANY (Acceptable Robotics Companions for Ageing Years) project has been carried out at the university’s Robot House over the last three years.

Dr Amirabdollahian said: “We were interested in seeing what technology can do, and whether it is acceptable by people, while also highlighting the ethics of having robots in the living environment.

“The rationale is that we are getting older and want to keep our personal spaces, so the question is if we are happy to stay independent while utilising some of these technologies.

“This project proved the feasibility of having companion technology while also highlighting different important aspects such as empathy, emotion, social intelligence as well as ethics and its norm surrounding technology for independent living”

The long-term goal is to trial the robots in real homes and find out if they can prolong independence while also ensuring that privacy is protected.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other The Comet visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by The Comet staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique The Comet account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

29 minutes ago

Officers investigating a burglary in Letchworth have today released CCTV images of two people they want to speak to as part of their enquiries.


Students from a Letchworth school enjoyed a bookshop shopping spree on Friday thanks to a £350 award from the Siobhan Dowd Trust.


A Hitchin photographer has been sharing her experience of volunteering in Africa for charity – ahead of a must-see exhibition of her images.


The biggest free festival in our area has been hailed as a huge success after taking place in Hitchin this weekend.

Most read stories


Show Job Lists

Most commented stories

Digital Edition

Read the The Comet e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter