Artist and designer Dan Chen has created the End of Life Care Machine, a robot tasked with comforting dying patients in their last moments. Built for Chen's Master's degree thesis, titled File > Save As > Intimacy, the robot is part of an interactive installation called "Last Moment Hospital."
Visitors to the installation are greeted by a "doctor" who invites them to lay in a bed and place their arm under the robot's padded caressing arm. The doctor then leaves the room, and the robot's LED screen displays a message reading "Detecting end of life."
As the robot gently caresses their arm, it displays "End of life Detected," and begins to read from a pre-determined script personalized with the visitor's name:
"Hello Susie, I am the Last Moment Robot.
I am here to help you and guide you through your last moment on earth.
i am sorry that [pause] your family and friends can't be with you right now, but don't be afraid. I am here to comfort you. [pause]
You are not alone, you are with me. [pause]
Your family and friends love you very much, they will remember you after you are gone. [pause]
Time of death 11:56"
Chen's creation was inspired by Paro, a successful Japanese robot designed to aid and comfort people suffering from Dementia. While Paro has proven to be effective, Chen questions "the quality of intimacy" that a robot can provide. As a response, he took the idea of human replacement to a much more extreme place. He wants us to question the value of intimacy without humanity, and purposefully designed the Last Moment Robot to look like a machine, rather than a Paro-like plush. There are obviously no plans to develop the robot for commercial use.