Europe has started to use more and more medical robots made in Japan, such as HAL, a robot that helps elderly patients with physical issues to be able to move, or PARO, a seal-shaped robot that is believed to have a therapeutic effect on patients.
Hybrid Assistive Limb or HAL reads the information from sensors on the patients’ skin, as well as slight changes in electric signals produced by muscles when the patients are trying to move their arms or legs.
PARO, the seal-robot, which is believed to improve the patients’ mood, has already been adopted by about 30 countries around the world, according to the local press. In Denmark, 70 percent of municipal governments have purchased the robot.
A German patient who has been undergoing treatment with HAL since August said: “I am very fortunate. I am grateful for this robotic suit.”
North Rhine-Westphalia, which has the largest population among 16 German states, showed interest in HAL at an early stage, investing a total of €820,000 (about Y110 million) since 2011.
HAL is the first robot to be certified as robotic medical equipment by the European Union.
“Europeans know the working population will decline because of the aging population [in European countries] and that it will be difficult to accept more immigrants,” a spokesman of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization said. “This has led to strong interest in using robots to make up for the shortage of workers in the future.”
The percentage of people aged 65 or older in the total population of EU nations is expected to reach about 25 percent in 2040.