Robot kitty offers comfort to seniors

(WJAR) -- Toymaker Hasbro and scientists at Brown University have received a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to find ways to add artificial intelligence to a robotic cat.

Hasbro’s “Joy for All” robotic cat, which has been on the market for two years, is aimed at seniors and meant to act as a “companion.” It purrs and meows, and even appears to lick its paw and roll over to ask for a belly rub.

The Brown-Hasbro project is aimed at developing additional capabilities for the cats to help older adults with simple tasks.

Researchers at Brown’s Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative are working to determine which tasks make the most sense, and which can help older adults stay in their own homes longer, such as finding lost objects, or reminding the owner to call someone or go to a doctor’s appointment.

The cat could be a tool that could make things easier for someone caring for a person with middle-stage dementia, or to be used in nursing homes where pets are not allowed.

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