Robot caregivers for elderly could debut in three years

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Robot helpers for the elderly could be available in as little as three years, recent reports from the University of Illinois at Chicago suggest.

A basic prototype of a caregiving robot might be available soon, according to the electrical and mechanical engineers working on the machines. Communication problems are the biggest obstacle to the robot's completion, the Chicago Tribune reported. Recognizing speech patterns from a stroke victim whose speech has been slurred is one example of the robot's limitations. But researchers have developed speech recognition methods they say adapt very quickly to human speech, the Tribune reported.

There has been much talk about robots for the elderly as a possible caregiving solution for the growing senior population around the world. A robot that could cost $20,000 or less and has an effective service life of five to 10 years would be a worthwhile investment, according to UIC researchers, the Tribune reported.