More about “socially assistive robots”: Here’s an article about a robot named Bandit that helps with rehab for stroke patients. A robot never gets tired or grumpy, and the fun of playing with it can encourage patients to persevere with demanding exercises that would otherwise get tedious:Socially Assistive Robots
This more detailed article from three years ago discusses how robots are being taught not only to “see” and evaluate facial expressions but to react appropriately to sounds, heart rate, and even body heat:Service Robots
Given that some people treat their Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners like pets, users tend to respond even more positively to devices that look and act sort of human. But not too much—these devices still have to avoid the “uncanny valley.” For example, autistic children prefer Kaspar, which looks like the conventional stereotype of a robot, over more human-like, doll-type androids.
Personal care robots as a concept are far from new in science fiction, of course. Remember Ray Bradbury’s story about a grandmother robot bought by a widowed father to care for his children, “I Sing the Body Electric”? They grow to love “her” as much as a flesh-and-blood caretaker. One unhappy little girl comes to see her as even better than a “real” granny because they can’t lose her to death.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt