Press release

Public needs convincing that robots can improve their quality of life

05 March 2015

New research shows that the majority of the UK public is yet to recognise the potential for robots to improve quality of life for themselves or their ageing relatives.

A survey of 2,023 online GB adults aged 16-75 for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) shows that, despite an ageing population and pressure on social care budgets, only a third of respondents (33 per cent*) say they would consider the use of a robot to assist an elderly or disabled relative.

17 per cent** say they would not consider using robots, which could be used for a range of basic everyday tasks from cooking and cleaning to dispensing medicines and helping with mobility.

Meanwhile, less than one in three (29 per cent) say they would consider using a robot themselves for these tasks. And 28 per cent say they would not consider using a robot to assist them.

William Webb, IET President, said: “Robots have been steadily gaining in capability over the last decade and as technology becomes much smarter, robotics is set to become a bigger part of our future.

“Robots have the potential to play a crucial role in improving the lives of people, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities, right across the world. But we need to make people aware of the huge benefits robotics can provide while addressing their concerns about loss of personal contact and a natural reluctance to embrace new technologies so that we can make smarter use of this technology to help people manage health conditions and stay independent for longer.

“From the helper in the home, to machines that provide social care for the sick or elderly, the race is on to produce new breeds of robotic machines that can help us address many of the problems we face in the modern world.”

Healthcare is a particularly important area of robotics research, not least because the converging challenges of an ageing population and increasing demands on health budgets mean that providers will require new ways to deliver care cost effectively.

Solutions range from automated trolleys or wheelchairs through to health monitoring systems, automated surgical equipment and humanoid ‘nurse robots’.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed an online quota sample of 2,023 adults aged 16-75 across Great Britain using i:omnibus, Ipsos MORI’s online omnibus. Interviews took place between 9 and 14 January 2015.  Data is weighted by age, gender, region, working status and social grade to match the profile of the target audience.
  • *scoring 8-10 on a ten point scale where 10 is “would definitely consider”
  • ** scoring 1-3 on a ten point scale where 1 is “would definitely not consider”
  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.