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Robots to aid the disabled and the elderly

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Purpose ‐ This article aims to discuss the potential of robots to assist the disabled and the elderly and to highlight some of the associated ethical issues. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Following an introduction, this considers robotic wheelchairs and exoskeletons, companion robots, assistive robots and household robots. This is followed by a short discussion of the ethical issues associated with their use. Findings ‐ This shows that many types of robots are available or under development which seek to aid the disabled and the elderly. Various as yet unresolved ethical issues have been raised regarding their use, most notably the potential problems arising from a reduction in human interactions. Originality/value ‐ In an era characterised by a growing elderly population, this article provides a timely review of robots aimed at assisting the elderly and disabled and gives some consideration of the ethical issues surrounding their use.
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Keywords: Disabled; Elderly; Ethics; Healthcare; Robot

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 11, 2013

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