The aim of the Social & Autonomous Robotic Health Assistant project was to develop a SARA robot that would ease the workload of care facility staff and provide clients with opportunities for social interaction. The integration of a social dimension allows the robot to provide clients with additional stimulation and help them engage in meaningful everyday activities.

There is a clear need for the development of this type of social robot, as the workload and stress of care staff is constantly increasing. This can potentially lead to a number of negative impacts, such as mistakes in the distribution of medications and burnout. According to studies, three out of four nurses feel that their work is occasionally highly stressful due to lack of time, among other factors.

Pilot at the Kustaankartano Service Centre

In Finland, the SARA robot was being tested in cooperation with the Kustaankartano Comprehensive Service Centre’s dementia ward. Preliminary testing was carried out in spring 2019 with the aim of mapping the wishes and needs of both residents and care staff to support the development of the robot. During the preliminary testing, residents got to try out various types of memory games and listen to the hit songs of their youth, among other activities.

In autumn 2019, the SARA robot was tested by the residents and care staff of Kustaankartano for a period of three weeks. The robot offered different activities for residents and was capable of moving around the wards independently. The aim was also to ease the workload of the care staff with the help of the robot by offering additional information related to the distribution of medications, for example. The aim of the pilot test was to ensure that the robot met the needs of both clients and care staff in an optimal way. A similar pilot was carried out in Eindhoven in the Netherlands in the autumn of 2019.

A European collaboration

The robot was developed in collaboration between three project partners: Forum Virium Helsinki from Finland, Bright Cape Holding from the Netherlands and Technische Universität Berlin from Germany. The Finnish company GIM Robotics is responsible for the navigation capabilities of the SARA robot.

Running until the end of 2019, the project was funded primarily by EIT Digital and participating companies. Forum Virium Helsinki’s work in the project was funded by EIT Digital, with co-financing from the City of Helsinki.

SARA project video

SARA webpage


Further information

Anne-Mari Sandell

Project Manager, Communications Specialist

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Mobile: +358 40 903 1922