Robots as personal assistants?

In a recent post, we detailed the experiences of a journalist who hired a remote personal assistant to handle some of his responsibilities. It didn’t turn out too well and he conceded that it’s better to have in an in-house employee for that kind of job. So, what if that in-house assistant were a robot? Would it make a difference? A group of researchers Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts is trying to figure that out.

Through a collaboration between the school’s Engineering and Social Science Departments, researchers received a $125,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop personal assistant robots for individuals suffering from age-related disabilities. A goal of this project is to create assistive robots that blend into everyday life and help prevent discrimination against elderly people.

“The novel part about this grant is that these robots don’t currently exist,” said Taskin Padir, a robotics professor at WPI, in a press release. “The design is going to be very user-centered […] We have a one-size-doesn’t-fit-all approach, so the challenge will be to design robots that can be easily modified and adapted to fit specific user needs.”

Experienced human personal assistants don’t need to worry about machines stealing their jobs. These robots are intended to play the role of a personal care assistant performing tasks like picking up trays or carrying a purse. The researchers did note, however, that their long-term plans include creating companion robots.

Despite these exciting developments on science, human-to-human interaction can’t be replaced. If you are a Los Angeles personal assistant looking to make the next step in your career, contact Colonial Domestic Agency today. Our counselors can find you exciting work opportunities with top employers.

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