• privacy;
  • security;
  • assistive environment;
  • assisted living;
  • autonomous mobile robot;
  • elderly care


In our societies, the number of senior citizens living on their own is increasing steadily. The lack of permanent attention results in the late detection of emergency situations. Labour-intensive care is already a high burden for the society; therefore, it seems reasonable to promote technology that helps to detect and react in case of emergency situations that elderly people may encounter.

In the last decade, assistive environments have been established by integrating surveillance devices into the living environments giving remote operators access to monitor the senior inhabitant at home for detecting emergency situations. However, due to poor privacy in terms of intrusion into the private life of an elderly person, there will be an unfavourably low acceptance of such systems.

This paper introduces a two-stage strategy and proposes to replace a possibly large number of human-controlled monitoring devices by a single autonomous mobile system. The first stage will be performed by the autonomous system to detect an emergency situation. The human operator will be obligatory only at the final stage when the system assumes that an emergency has occurred and the final evaluation of the situation is required. The self-assessment will reduce the human factor related to privacy issues. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.