Robotics and autonomous devices in social and health care

Expert study (2011-2012)


Opportunities and risks of autonomous devices and robots

In nursing care and rehabilitation, looking after elderly people, and also children, it is predicted that there will be shortages of human resources in the industrialised countries. The spectrum of possible applications of robots and autonomous devices in these areas is very broad. It ranges from training robots that are used in rehabilitation and service robots for the household to «electronic soft toys» which react to tactile stimuli and are already used in retirement homes in Japan. Systems for supporting people who need nursing care will possibly enable elderly people in future to remain in the home they are familiar with for longer and to put off going into an old people’s home. But where is this trend leading? Is it a lead-in to the mechanisation of areas such as care for the elderly, in which up to now a human counterpart has always been essential?

 Why conduct a TA-SWISS study on this subject?

 There are a great many unresolved questions, such as with regard to the suitability of the devices in everyday situations and the impact on those concerned – whether these are the people who are served or looked after by a robot, or workers in an institution which uses robots and autonomous devices.

Wissenswertes – Pour en savoir plus – Saperne di più – Learn more

Die Sendung «Einstein» auf Schweizer Fernsehen SF: Interview mit Projektleiterin Prof. Heidrun Becker


Project supported by

  • Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS
  • Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI
  • Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SAHS
  • Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences SAMS

Project mandataries

  • Dr. Heidrun Becker, School of Health Professions, Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW  (Project Manager)
  • Dr. Holger Auerbach, Winterthur Institute of Health Economics WIG, ZHAW
  • Richard Alexander Hüppi, School of Engineering, ZHAW
  • Mandy Scheermesser, School of Health Professions, ZHAW

Supervisory group

  • Prof. Dr. Daniel Gygax, University of applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (chairman of supervisory group)
  • Sibylle Ackermann Birbaum, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences A+
  • Prof. Dr. Hannes Bleuler, EPF Lausanne
  • Dr. Katrin Crameri, Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences SAMS, Basel
  • Janine Graf, Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI, Berne
  • Bea Heim, National Councillor, Social Democratic Party, Canton Solothurn
  • Prof. Dr. François Höpflinger, University of Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. Annemarie Kesselring, University of Basel
  • Dr. med. Pedro Koch, Senior Health Consultant, Küsnacht
  • Prof. Dr. Sabine Maasen, University of Basel
  • Dr. Jürg Müller, Legal Services University Hospital Basel    
  • Thomas Müller, Journalist Radio DRS, Basel
  • Prof. Dr. Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello, University of Berne
  • Prof. Dr. Robert RienerETH Zurich
  • Dr. Markus Zürcher, Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SAHS, Berne
  • Prof. Dr. Giatgen Spinas, University Hospital Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. Gábor Szekely, Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI, Berne

TA-SWISS Project Management

Dr. Adrian Rüegsegger, TA-SWISS. E-Mail

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