Mini: A New Social Robot for the Elderly
International Journal of Social Robotics

The unceasing aging of the population is leading to new problems in developed countries. Robots represent an opportunity to extend the period of independent living of the elderly as well as to ameliorate their economic burden and social problems. We present a new social robot, Mini, specifically designed to assist and accompany the elderly in their daily life either at home or in a nursing facility. Based on the results of several meetings with experts in this field, we have built a robot able to provide services in the areas of safety, entertainment, personal assistance and stimulation. Mini supports elders and caregivers in cognitive and mental tasks. We present the robot platform and describe the software architecture, particularly focussing on the human–robot interaction. We give in detail how the robot operates and the interrelation of the different modules of the robot in a real use case. In the last part of the paper, we evaluated how users perceive the robot. Participants reported interesting results in terms of usability, appearance, and satisfaction. This paper describes all aspects of the design and development of a new social robot that can be used by other researchers who face the multiple challenges of creating a new robotic platform for older people.