Retirement living can occasionally lead to isolation for older persons who aren't as mobile as they used to be, and some engineers say that robotic companions may be one answer to reduce loneliness.
The Royal Academy of Engineering says that along with the development of driverless automobiles, the aging population may benefit from autonomous creations that resemble pets, but that don't require the same care.
"We expect to see a new generation of autonomous systems that will become tools that are in some respects almost like people; but will also pose some of the same ethical and management issues as people do," noted Professor Will Stewart.
"We expect great benefits - but also some new attitudes to our creations."
There are already automated telemedicine programs available in the UK, and a combination of pet-like behavior and notification systems for medical emergencies could be features in the next generation of robotic companions, according to the Daily Mail.
Early devices in Japan have already shown the ability to recognize faces and respond to owner commands, although older persons may have to get used to the technology before they appreciate the new products, the newspaper reported.