Our societies undergo a dramatic demographic change as the number of elderly and people requiring support in their daily life is steadily increasing. On a different front, the digital revolution creates scores of technologically illiterate people, mostly middle-aged and elderly, who are excluded from a vast array of electronic services and benefits. Socially interactive robots can help families and caregivers, by physically assisting people and functioning as a companion. Robots may also adopt the role of a friendly tutor for people who want to partake in the electronic feast and they don’t know where to start. The increasing sales figures of robots point towards a trend break for robotics.
To lower costs for developers and increase their interest in developing robotic applications, RAPP, a new research project funded by the European Commission through its FP7 programme, introduces the idea of robots as platforms.
The RAPP project will provide an open source software platform to support the creation and delivery of Robotic Applications (RApps), which, in turn, are expected to increase the versatility and utility of robots. The emphasis of this project will be on applications that will enable robots to understand and respond to the intentions and needs of people at risk of exclusion, especially the elderly.
People requiring support in their daily life is increasing and eldercare is becoming one of the most important healthcare concerns. The development of socially interactive robots for the elderly can be seen as one of the few solutions to help healthcare professionals and families to confront this situation and to improve the quality of life of the seniors. To increase the versatility and utility of robots for the elderly, the RAPP project is currently developing its software platform that will enable any robot owner to download robotic applications addressing the real needs of the people at risk of exclusion and especially the elderly.