Robots Helping Elderly in Belgium Keep Connected During Coronavirus

To keep elderly residents safe during the coronavirus pandemic, many senior care facilities are restricting guests. This means that family and friends aren’t able to visit leading to isolation and loneliness. One Belgian robotics company is stepping in and helping seniors stay connected.

Ostend based Zorabots plans to lend about 60 of its “James” robots to senior living facilities throughout the country. The main purpose of the robots is to help connect seniors to their loved ones by way of video chats using Facebook messenger. The four-foot-tall robots can navigate room to room without any human assistance. The senior can see and talk to their loved ones thanks to the robot’s HD video screen and integrated audio speakers.

“The elderly are unable or barely able to communicate outside. We have the solution where our robot James can drive from room to room. There he can then do telecommunications. James does not need any physical contact and can thus ensure that the residents can keep in touch,” said Zorabots managing partner Tommy Deblieck.

James Just Needs Wifi

All that is needed is a simple wifi connection. To help senior facilities that do not have wireless connectivity, Zorabots enlisted Belgium telecom company Telenet.

“In order for James to work, a wireless connection is required. Not all residential care centers have a wireless connection. Telenet will now ensure that they do. That way, James can communicate wirelessly,” said Deblieck.

Zorabots Robots Keeping Elderly in Belgium Connected During Coronavirus - YellRobot
credit: Zorabots

Zorabots to Deploy Throughout Europe

Zorabots is looking to send their robots beyond Belgium. They are working on readying an additional 650 units for deployment to senior living facilities throughout Europe.

“We indeed hope that colleagues from other municipalities, but also from the private residential care centers, will contact Zorabots. It is a good thing that we can start this from Ostend. It is not the intention to do it only for Ostend, but for everyone, it shows that technology is important in the fight against the coronavirus, but also in the fight against loneliness,” said Ostend Mayor Bart Tommelein who plans to deploy the robots to local senior centers immediately.

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