Tele-operated robots in elderly care at home: A survey on needs and perceptions of elderly people and caregivers

Lucia Pigini, David Facal, Lorenzo Blasi, Renzo Andrich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Objective: Remotely-controlled assistive robots can help improving the quality of life of frail elderly people, by assisting them in specific tasks identified as relevant for an independent and autonomous life. Within the EU-funded research project "Multi-Role Shadow Robotic System for Independent Living" (SRS), the ability of such systems to meet the users' needs, perceptions and feelings has been investigated, in order to generate technical requirements and realistic usage scenarios for developing a new semi-autonomous remotely-controlled and selflearning assistive robot. Design: A qualitative and quantitative research - based on focus groups (59 participants) and questionnaires (129 respondents) - was carried out in three countries: Italy, Spain and Germany. The survey involved prospective end-users (elderly people and family members who care for them), caregivers, and geriatric experts. Results: Results show that despite the elderly people interviewed have difficulties in many activities of daily life, a tele-operated robot has been judged an interesting solution for at least three situations: 1) managing emergency actions after a fall, 2) helping reaching and fetching objects positioned in unreachable places (e.g. too high or too low), and 3) carrying heavy objects. Tasks involving direct physical contact between the person and the robot - such as help in personal care - are not desired instead. Relatives of the elderly could act as remote operators; however, the family caregiver's psychological burden and time restrictions should be also considered. Conclusions: A tele-operated robotic system may be of help for frail elderly people. In certain cases this solution may be effective only in conjunction with a 24-hour professional Service Centre able to manage tele-operation when relatives are not available. This survey adds further tokens of knowledge to previous literature studies on this subject; it compares the potential users' and the professionals' views; it helps identifying potentially successful applications of tele-operated robots in the care of elderly people living at home.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAssistive Technology Research Series
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series

NameAssistive Technology Research Series
ISSN (Print)1383813X
ISSN (Electronic)18798071


  • caregivers
  • elderly people
  • Service robots
  • tele-operation
  • user requirements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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