Nursing home robots could come soon, if Japanese government funding pays off

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The government of Japan will fund the development of four different kinds of robots that could perform essential tasks in nursing homes, the Japan Daily Press reported Monday.

Starting this year, the Japanese government will subsidize up to 60% of research and development costs related to these robots, according to the Daily Press. One type of robot would assist in transfers, another would help residents walk, a third type would monitor people with dementia who wander, and the fourth type would be self-cleaning robotic toilets.

Prototype nursing home robots are extremely expensive, so the Japanese government is asking companies to develop low-cost robots that could be adopted on a wide scale. The country is facing an expanding population of seniors and a shortage of nursing home workers.

If successful, the Japanese robots could be a way to relieve staffing pressures in the United States. U.S. long-term care providers have recently called for government action, including a new type of worker visa, to help address rampant labor shortages.