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Revision of the Priority Areas to Which Robot Technology is to be Introduced in Nursing Care To encourage businesses to develop nursing-care robots contributing to self-reliance support

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) revised a list titled “Priority Areas to Which Robot Technology is to be Introduced in Nursing Care” (formulated in November 2012; revised in February 2014), aiming to realize self-reliance support by making use of robot technology.

1. Outline

The Investments for the Future Strategy 2017, a national policy approved by the Cabinet on June 9, 2017, set a goal involving the development of nursing care robots for maintaining and improving robot-users’ quality of living through self-reliance support and other measures and for reducing burdens on caregivers. The policy also stipulates another goal that Japan should review priority areas in which nursing care robots should be developed, compile future directions along which it will strategically develop new robots, and reflect the results in new robot-development efforts to be supported from FY2018.

In FY2016, MHLW established a Collaboration and Liaison Council for Studying Needs and Seeds to provide an opportunity in which nursing care providers and developers are able to hold discussions and compile proposals containing efforts for developing nursing care robots in which needs of such providers are reflected. In addition, METI conducted a large-scale demonstration test involving the utilization of communication robots in the field of nursing care. As a result, they identified nursing care robots, focusing on which Japan should advance new development and commercialization efforts.

Accordingly, METI and MHLW revised the Priority Areas to Which Robot Technology is to be Introduced in Nursing Care, formulated by them in November 2012 (revised in February 2014). Through this revision, they newly designated one priority area and five items, coming to 13 items in six priority areas in total.

METI and MHLW recognize the importance of advancing the development of safety-conscious nursing care robots. Bearing this in mind, they will continue to advance the preparation of safe standards in these areas aiming to introduce such robots into the field of nursing care and popularize such robots.

2. Revision of the priority areas

Through this revision of the Priority Areas to Which Robot Technology is to be Introduced in Nursing Care, METI and MHLW newly designated one priority area and five items, coming to 13 items in six priority areas in total.

Note:Items with an asterisk (*) at the head are newly designated priority areas and items.

1)Lifting aids

  • Wearable devices using robot technology to provide power assistance to caregivers
  • Non-wearable devices using robot technology providing power assistance to caregivers in lifting care receivers

2)Mobility aids

  • Walking-aid devices using robot technology to support care receivers, such as elderly people, walking outdoors and to secure safe carrying of loads
  • Walking-aid devices using robot technology to support care receivers, such as elderly people, moving indoors, and sitting and standing; particularly assisting them in getting to and from toilets and supporting their posture in using the toilet

* Wearable mobility-aid devices using robot technology to support care receivers, such as elderly people, walking outdoors, prevent them from falling and overall support while walking

3)Toilets

  • Adjustable-position toilets using robot technology for excrement disposal

* Devices using robot technology predicting the evacuation timing of care receivers and guiding them to a toilet at the exact timing

* Devices using robot technology to support care receivers in the series of motions required for evacuation, e.g., removing and putting on of clothing below the waist at the toilet site

4)Monitoring and communication systems

  • Monitoring system platforms consisting of devices with sensors and external communication functions using robot technology, used in nursing care facilities
  • Monitoring system platforms consisting of sensors detecting when a care receiver falls down and external communication functions using robot technology, used for home nursing care

* Livelihood support devices using robot technology for communicating with care receivers, such as elderly people.

5)Bathing

  • Devices using robot technology to support care receivers in the series of motions required for getting in and out of bathtubs

6)Nursing-care services

* Devices using robot technology collecting and accumulating information involving nursing-care services, including monitoring, mobility aids and toilet aids, thereby allowing service providers to utilize such information to provide required support measures for care receivers, such as elderly people, etc.

3. Future schedule

1)Supporting businesses to develop such robots

  • METI will support businesses in developing such robots through advancing the Project to Promote the Development and Introduction of Robotic Devices for Nursing Care, organized by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. It will call for applicants for this project in FY2017.
  • MHLW will conduct a demonstration test of prototype devices under development targeting nursing care providers and raise public awareness of the test results to popularize them, thereby aiming to develop an environment for commercialization of nursing care robots. Moreover, it will support efforts for developing nursing-care technology taking advantage of such robots.

2)Explanatory meeting

The Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development will hold an explanatory meeting about the six priority areas and 13 items as well as support measures for developing nursing care robots, taking the opportunity of the meeting of the Partnership Project for Developing Nursing Care Robots. For details of the explanatory meeting, visit the website for Partnership Project for Developing Nursing Care Robots.

Release date

October 12, 2017

Division in Charge

Robotics Policy Office, Industrial Machinery Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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