AI trial in aged care begins

Residents of one aged care facility will get a glimpse of the future when an AI-powered robot named Abi begins her trial as a companion for older residents.

Aged care provider Benetas has partnered with Andromeda Robotics to trial the use of an AI-powered robot to engage residents at the St George aged care home in Altona, Victoria.

Abi, as the robot is affectionately known, is powered by the GPT4 large language model – better known by its free version name ChatGPT.

Abi, who will interact with residents at the facility over the next three months, is able to recognise residents, answer questions and customise conversations based on previous interactions she’s had with them.

Abi can speak 90 languages and communicate and translate effectively for patients for whom English may be a second, or even third, language.

Benetas will be monitoring Abi’s performance and conducting research into residents’ experience with Abi and their quality of life before and after Abi’s introduction.

Using Abi’s machine learning algorithms, providers can extract meaningful patterns and trends from the data, and predictions from the data that will enable them to make informed decisions quickly.

How will Abi help the residents?

While the thought of AI interacting with vulnerable aged care residents might cause some concern, Elyssia Clark, Benetas general manager of insights and marketing, says it is imperative that the aged care sector researchers all options.

“This is an important and exciting step to see how we can improve the lives of our residents,” she says.

By leveraging artificial intelligence and robotics to create unique social interactions, “we look forward to seeing how Abi relates to residents and the results from the trial”.

Melbourne-based tech startup Andromeda Robotics is focused on designing and building ‘companion robots’, of which Abi is their flagship model.

“A team of passionate engineers, our vision is to create companion robots that are not just smart and functional, but also warm and empathetic,” the company mission statement reads.

Co-founder Grace Brown says Abi was designed to offer a unique blend of friendship and support to aged care residents.

“With her inquisitive and child-like personality, Abi is programmed to engage interactively and empathetically with residents, fostering both emotional and social wellbeing,” Ms Brown says.

“She is more than just a piece of technology, Abi is a friend who brings joy and companionship to everyday life.”

Would you be comfortable with a robot interacting with you socially? What are the potential problems? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Aged care fees to be reviewed next week

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Over 15 years ago Honda presented Asimo to the world. Asimo was a fairly humanoid robot that was envisaged as being suitable as a personal assistant in this type of scenario. Asimo was developed to be fairly autonomous and capable of having a direct interaction in health monitoring and mobility assistance. Asimo was the first bipedal robot that could walk and run both straight ahead but also in curves plus negotiate stairs.
    Imagine a virtual companion that could check all of the vital health signs while you lay in bed and know if you needed assistance beyond a cup of tea.
    Robots similar to Asimo were hoped that would enable the aged to continue to live independently in their own homes and have a secure environment.
    Honda took their development to the mechanics and computer level that was achievable at the time and having reached their objective were leaving it to outside parties to take it further. This appears to be a ball that has been dropped at this time.
    Asimo was made to be humanoid enough to be seen as non-threatening but robotic enough to function as a safe machine to assist in every day life. (Though there was a noticeable level of noise in operation as the joints were moved.)
    Yes, if it came to that, I’d have a friendly robot present in my home.

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