Is a robot an appliance, teammate, or friend? age-related differences in expectations of and attitudes toward personal home-based robots
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Future advances in technology may allow home-based robots to perform complex collaborative activities with individuals of different ages. Two studies were conducted to understand the expectations of and attitudes toward home-based robots by younger and older adults. One study involved questionnaires sent to 2500 younger adults (aged 18-28) and 2500 older adults (aged 65-86) in the Atlanta Metropolitan area. One hundred and eighty questionnaires were completed and returned by individuals in the targeted age groups. For the questionnaire, participants were asked to imagine a robot in their home and then to answer questions about how well characteristics matched their imagined robot. Participants' technology and robot experience, demographic information, and health information were also collected. In conjunction with the questionnaire study, twelve younger adults (aged 19-26) and twenty-four older adults in two sub-age groups (younger-older, aged 65-75, and older-older aged 77-85) were interviewed about their expectations of and attitudes toward a robot in their home. They were asked to imagine a robot in their home and answer numerous questions about the tasks their envisioned robot would perform, the appearance of the robot, and other general questions about their interaction with the robot. The results of the studies suggest that individuals have many different ideas about what a robot in the home would be like. Mostly, they want a robot to perform mundane or repetitive tasks, such as cleaning, and picture a robot as a time-saving device. However, individuals are willing to have a robot perform other types of tasks, if they see benefits of having the robot perform those tasks. The ability of the robot to perform tasks efficiently, with minimal effort on the part of the human, appears to be more important in determining acceptance of the robot than its social ability or appearance. Overall, individuals both younger and older seem to be very open to the idea of a robot in their home as long it is useful and not too difficult to use.