What are the preferred characteristics of a service robot for the elderly? A multi-country focus group study with older adults and caregivers

Sandra Bedaf*, Patrizia Marti, Luc De Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Web of Science)


This multi-perspective study focuses on how a service robot for the elderly should behave when interacting with potential users. An existing service robot and a scenario were used as a concrete case, which was discussed and analyzed during focus group sessions with older adults (n = 38), informal caregivers (n = 24), and professional caregivers (n = 35) in the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. A total of seven topics-privacy, task execution, environment, appearance, behavior, visitors, and communication-were explored. The results showed that some of the characteristics mentioned were unique to a user group, but several were cross-cutting. Overall, potential users expected the service robot to be customizable in order to match the users' needs and preferences. Also, high expectations concerning its functioning and behavior were expressed, which sometimes could even be compared to the qualities of a human being. This emphasizes the complexity of service robot development for older adults, and highlights the need for a personalized and flexible solution. One size does not fit all, and specific attention should be paid to the development of the robot's social behavior and skills beyond a mere functional support for the person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalAssistive Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019


  • activities of daily living
  • older adults
  • robotics

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