robot and frank

The future is finally here. Hollywood told us that by the time the year 20XX arrived we’d all be living in sky bubbles, getting our meals in pill form and having our bodily waste carry itself out of us in the form of perfumed butterflies that then explode into dollar bills (or was that just a dream I had?), and as the years ticked by we were becoming increasingly tetchy that none of this was becoming a reality. But now, the Japanese government has announced plans to roll out special “nursing robots” that will assist care givers and help prepare the country for the inevitable time when almost 40 percent of the population will be aged 65 or older.

Detailed in a Yomiuri Online report, the robots are intended to assist care givers with tasks such as lifting and supporting elderly patients and residents who have difficulty standing or walking on their own. Rather than costing tens of thousands of dollars each, however, the government is hoping to introduce robots with pared down functionality for around the 100,000 yen (US$1,030) mark, mentioning plans to lease the robots out for just a couple of hundred yen per month – roughly the price of a bottle of green tea and a convenience store-bought onigiri rice ball.

Officials hope that the robot nurses will become a common sight at care homes in future years, and are expected to release a full statement detailing the implementation of the plan next month. It is thought that the robotic assistants will form an essential part of a plan to address the shortage of care workers in the country as well as nurturing new industries for the development and creation of the robots, with the government providing as much as 2.5 million US dollars to get the project started.

We may still be quite some years away from getting helpers like the space helmet-wearing robot butler in last year’s Robot & Frank, but with any luck by the time we’re all finally snug in our bubble homes we’ll have a little guy around to emotionally blackmail us into eating a low sodium diet, or at the very least stop talking about exploding butterfly poop when in polite company.

Source: Yomiuri Online

Title image Robot & Frank via The Telegraph