If you take a step to the side, she turns her head to follow you. As soon as she makes contact with you again, her face lights up. It’s clear that care robot Eva II enjoys meeting people. ‘You shouldn’t see her as a person though,’ warns IDE Master’s student Bram van der Veen, who developed the robot together with fellow students, as an assignment from the university. ‘Ultimately she’s no more than a glorified washing machine.’
However, she is a machine that is going to have to win the hearts of the elderly. The idea is to circulate Eva II in healthcare institutions to investigate how older people respond to robots.
Her predecessor Eva I, who now stands idle and forlorn in a corner of the lab, was created to distribute drinks in a nursing home and to welcome people and accompany them. However, during an experiment in a nursing home in Heemskerk last year, these duties proved too much for her. Eva I collided with an elderly lady who was using a rollator. The original ambitions had to be scaled back. Eva II has a tray but no movable arms and hands like her predecessor. Her most important task it to give people a good feeling by looking cheerful and surprised. And she can certainly do that like no other.