I’ve been reading recently that robot carers may become a reality. One particular article reported on an experiment to dress a mannequin in a hospital gown.
This set me wondering about why you would want a robot to dress a mannequin – fair enough it’s an experiment – but in real life hospital patients are not typically lying totally still, naked and rigid – unless of course they are already dead.
Imagining my Grandma, a plump, vociferous, independent woman who liked things to be done properly. Would she argue with the robot?
‘No, not the left arm first’
‘I don’t want it over my head’
‘your hands are cold’
‘why is this taking so long’
She would be moving about, trying to sit up. Ultimately, maybe trying to snatch the hospital gown from the robot, and not being programmed for this eventuality the robot would hold on tight.
Grandma is soft and cuddly, the robot is hard and cold to the touch. Grandma has led a busy life and probably has never even thought about what is involved in putting on a nightdress whereas that is all the robot thinks about – it’s single obsession.
No, it won’t do! I want a warm, caring human to dress my Grandma – to talk to her, cajole her, love her – not a cold machine programmed by some remote person who only cares about efficiency.
Latest advances in soft robotics tells us of a robot with sensitive fingertips and a robot with a camera and perception algorithm that can detect folds in fabric but it would take some pretty sophisticated technology and complex algorithms to tackle putting a nightdress on MY Grandma.
Would you let a robot dress your Grandma?