The emerging demographic trends toward an aging population, demand new ways and solutions to improve the quality of elderly life. These include, prolonged independent living, improved health care, and reduced social isolation. Recent technological advances in the field of assistive robotics bring higher sophistication and various assistive abilities that can help in achieving these goals. In this paper, we present design and validation of a low-cost telepresence robot that can assist the elderly and their professional caregivers, in everyday activities. The developed robot structure and its control objectives were tested in, both, a simulation and experimental environment. On-field experiments were done in a private elderly care center involving elderly persons and caregivers as participants. The goal of the evaluation study was to test the software architecture and the robot capabilities for navigation, as well as the robot manipulator. Moreover, participants' reactions toward a possible adoption of the developed robot system in everyday activities were assessed. The obtained results of the conducted evaluation study are also presented and discussed.
Keywords: assistive robotics; elderly care; mobile robot system; shared control; telepresence robot.