Evaluating Older Adults’ Interaction with a Mobile Assistive Robot

We present findings from two deployments of an autonomous mobile robot in older adult low income Supportive Apartment Living (SAL) facilities. Design guidelines for the robot hardware and software were based on query of clinicians, caregivers and older adults through focus groups, member checks and surveys, to identify what each group believed to be the most important daily activities for older adults to accomplish physically, mentally and socially. After data analysis, hydration and walking encouragement were found to be critical daily activities, becoming the focus of our deployments. The aim of the deployments was to understand the efficacy of human-robot interaction and identify ways to enhance the robot design and programming. Through observation of older adults with the robot and post-interaction surveys filled out by the older adults, conclusions were drawn for further advancement of the robot to be tested in future deployments. Results overall indicated high perceived usefulness and growing acceptance of the robot by older adults with increased interactions.


This study describes robot interactions with elders in a low income SAL facility, presenting guidelines for the design of the robot hardware based on human-robot interactions using tasks determined to be important from previous stakeholder focus groups and surveys. Two highly rated tasks requiring a mobile-only robotic base were chosen for study and the robot was adapted to perform both. Data was collected on the robot performance including aspects of human-robot interaction to help in the design of robots and interaction in future deployments, where we plan to integrate an arm onto the mobile base. We will then be able to address a wider range of highly ranked tasks (according to our need finding study). Tasks such as fetching objects on the floor and in cabinets or opening doors emerged on the focus groups and surveys, and future deployments will evaluate the usability and acceptance of the robot in performing those tasks.


  • [PDF] C. Mucchiani, S. Sharma, M. Johnson, J. Sefcik, N. Vivio, J. Huang, P. Cacchione, M. Johnson, R. Rai, A. Canoso, T. Lau, and M. Yim, “Evaluating older adults’ interaction with a mobile assistive robot,” in 2017 ieee/rsj international conference on intelligent robots and systems (iros), Vancouver, Canada, 2017.
    title = {Evaluating Older Adults’ Interaction with a Mobile Assistive Robot},
    author = {Mucchiani, Caio and Sharma, Suneet and Johnson, Megan and Sefcik, Justine and Vivio, Nicholas and Huang, Justin and
    Cacchione, Pamela and Johnson, Michelle and Rai, Roshan and Canoso, Adrian and Lau, Tessa and Yim, Mark},
    booktitle = {2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)},
    address = {Vancouver, Canada},
    year = {2017},