In Germany there are various pilot projects in which care facilities are to be supported using robots and AI. Green MEPs are already calling for a digital care pact.
By Birthe Sönnichsen, ARD capital studio
Pepper is 1.20 meters tall, has big black googly eyes and a glossy white body. It looks like it came from a manga comic. Pepper is a care robot, speaks different languages and can remember faces, for example. It is one of the social, humanoid robots. Your area of application: nursing homes, but also children's stations in hospitals, for example.
There she is a welcome distraction for the little patients, can play with them, sing or dance for them. At a care station, the robot can also support the staff, for example, if demented residents want to go to the supermarket in the middle of the night, describes Ingolf Rascher from the Ruhr University in Bochum.
"Perhaps the demented Ms. Müller would like to go shopping at 3.20 am. And then he speaks to her and asks 'Ms. Müller, where do you want to go?' And can tell her that this is not the right time to shop. And if she wants to go shopping anyway, he can just inform the nursing staff about it. "
So far only pilot studies
Pepper is still an exception. So far there are only a few pilot studies in the German healthcare system. Politics also supports individual projects. The Federal Ministry of Research believes that robots can help relieve everyday care. But that's still a long way off.
"You won't find the robot in everyday care in a nursing facility like this," says Peter Tackenberg from the German Nursing Council. He doubts that the technology will quickly provide relief.
"Robotics and AI are actually not the key to addressing health and care issues."
Ethical questions remain
Another research project is the Robbe Paro. It is tested at around 40 care facilities in Germany. 60 cm tall, three kilos, cozy fur. Sensors ensure that Paro looks like a living baby seal. It is primarily intended to help people with dementia. The cost per seal is around 5000 euros. And you have to feed them: with data.
Sources of article: