Robot designed to aid senior citizens could decrease cost of growing old

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Some are saying Rosie, the robot from "The Jetsons," has arrived in Walnut Creek.

There's a pilot project underway in the Bay Area that could upend care for seniors - many of whom can't use things like Skype and Facetime because they don't have a smart phone or computer.

89 year old Bert and 86 year old Maxine live with their new robot that they've nicknamed "Jimmy."

The prototype robot could provide home care assistance and more to seniors to seniors.

This robot is entirely controlled remotely by the couple's son who is on his laptop miles away.

"We are taking baby steps here and being able to see each other from afar and communicate," the couple's son Dan Yarbrough said.

"It's startling at first because you feel like you have an intruder. But then after you use it it's like he's come over to visit us," Maxine said.

The seniors don't need a smartphone or computer. The robot boots up when their son logs on and wheels around their apartment at the Heritage Downtown in Walnut Creek as they cook and chat.

"It can't give hugs yet but it's a companion especially if you were by yourself," Maxine said.

The robot could also check on them if they don't answer the phone.

"Our plan is to roll out hundreds in the coming year and scale things up and see if we bring this experience to more families around the Bay Area," OhmniLabs co-founder Jared Go told ABC7 News.

"We have a wait list of 50 people who want to experience the robot once we get outside the pilot," Jesse Walters with Home Care Assistance said.

The cost of a robot is expected to be far less than hiring a human caregiver.

The hope is eventually a robot like this will pick up objects, run an errand, or wash laundry and dishes - redefining what it's like to grow old.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.