The idea of robots tending to the sick, elderly and disabled might sound like science fiction, but it is not.


The technology already exists and could be coming to Australian homes.



The move towards home care for the sick has taken a high tech step forward.



Korean-designed robots can be programed to do a range of tasks for the sick and disabled including moving the patient and bringing them food and drinks.



They are activated by voice and hand signals or body movements.



“We can design the system in such a way, depending on their disability, they can choose the way of commanding the system,” Professor Zeungnam Bien, from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, said.



Korean scientists are visiting the University of New South Wales to show robotic engineers how the technology works.



One robot uses the patient’s eye movements and a miniature camera to control a mechanical arm, allowing it to pick up objects for the patient.



While that technology is a way off, home health care is already here.



Australian scientists have devised a system where patients can test their own blood pressure, heart rate and lung function and send those results directly to the GP.



Experts say the greatest difficulty with the new technology is convincing people to overcome their fear and hesitation about being cared for by machines.



“These technologies must come in in the next decade to 20 years. The issue now is how to deploy them, how to use them and how to have people accept them,” Professor Branko Cella, head of the University of New South Wales School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunication, said.



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