Robotics and automation have become a mainstay in areas of the healthcare industry such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and are seeing high-levels of uptake in surgical settings. There is also a great deal of opportunity remaining for robotics to contribute at all levels of healthcare systems from drug discovery to care-assistance for the elderly or infirm.
Against this backdrop, James Mather, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the future of care-robots:
“In a world with a growing aging population, where extended families are disappearing and social welfare budgets are under strain, care robots can dramatically cut the cost of nursing elderly patients. However, there are major barriers for companies which plan to develop robots to aid in care environment. In addition, there are ethical dilemmas posed by the use of autonomous machines in healthcare situations as well as worries about a lack of emotional care that could result from replacing caregivers with robots.
“Outside of manufacturing, the integration of robotics into the healthcare system has been a localized affair, with the vast-majority of the introduction of care robots occurring in Japan. With its aging population and staff shortfall in the care and nursing professions, Japan has explicitly committed to develop robots as part of its strategy to care for the elderly. This has happened largely due to a broader societal acceptance of direct human-robot interactions, as robots have become a familiar sight in customer-service roles in Japan.
“Companies which have been developing robots with an emphasis on human-interaction, such as SoftBank Robotics, are the best prepared to enter the care-robot space. Introducing human-robot interactions to everyday life around the world, whether through a retail setting or robots providing domestic services, will prove to be a major step towards their acceptance into healthcare.”