Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the social club welcomes its elderly members for half a day packed with social activities like music, tai-chi, Dominoes or Scrabble. The mission of the centre is to help Edinburgh’s lonely and isolated over-60s by providing companionship that is integrated with local communities.
The robot was programmed by Guillaume Gautier, an MSc student currently enrolled in the Robotics, Autonomous and Interactive Systems MSc programme, and by Scott MacLeod, a PhD student at the School of Engineering of Physical Science, both under the supervision of Dr Mauro Dragone (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Centre for Robotics).
The work is part of the ongoing effort from Heriot-Watt’s researchers to work with care organizations, such as LifeCare, and people with assisted living needs, to codesign and test innovative solutions for healthy ageing and independent living. This specific project will contribute to our understanding of what value robots like Pepper can bring to the social care sector, for example helping to promote social inclusion, providing better support to persons in need, and providing better support to the millions of unpaid and paid carers in the UK.