Caring Robots // Robotic Care

Robotic and artificial intelligence based technologies are often referred to be key to tackle the looming care crisis for the elderly resulting from demographic changes. In practice, however, these technologies have not had the desired impact in the care sector – utility and acceptance have been low. Our goal is to develop and implement novel and desirable roles of robotic technology that proof useful, safe, meaningful, and wanted.

In recent years, more and more research on care technologies strives to integrate stakeholders in the development of robotic solutions to mitigate the low acceptance and utility. However, these attempts are still mainly technology driven, not resulting in holistic and sustainable socio-technical solutions. We aim for a participatory, open and reflective design process that involves a broad range of stakeholders from the care sector, with the ultimate goal to create desirable technological futures of care rather than merely acceptable ones. The gained insights shall contribute to a novel ethically aligned design approach for robotic care technology.

Much research has focused on developing assistive technology in a task-solving, feature-driven mindset. In contrast, this project starts from the question what robotic technology in care should do compared to what it could do. Establishing a participatory research culture that involves practice expertise and relevant stakeholders at all stages of the technology development process will ensure that all voices are heard in designing desirable technological futures of care, improving utility, acceptance and uptake in practice.

We start from the question what robotic technology in care should do instead of what it could do.

Caring Robots Team

This project implements a transdisciplinary participatory design process which pushes forward the state-of-the-art in human-robot interaction for the care context. We involve stakeholders in a series of design case studies, with increasing complexity, ranging from institutionalised and semi-institutionalised care to mobile care and 24h care at home. Each case explores the intersection of specific care challenges such as cognitive decline, social isolation and physical support with technological opportunity spaces provided by robotics.

The research team has profound knowledge in inter- and transdisciplinary research. Four scientific team members - Sabine KöszegiMargrit Gelautz, opens an external URL in a new windowAstrid Weiss, opens an external URL in a new window, and Markus Vincze, opens an external URL in a new window – are currently collaborating as supervisors in the interdisciplinary doctoral college TrustRobots at TU Wien. Christopher Frauenberger, opens an external URL in a new window from the University of Salzburg joins the consortium as an expert on participatory design and digital humanism. The cross-fertilisation between science and practice will be driven by two core members from the practice field - Caritas der Erzdiözese Wien, opens an external URL in a new window and Technisches Museum Wien, opens an external URL in a new window – with their profound know-how in the care sector and as experts on communication between science and society.