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The New York Times | Seniors Welcome New, Battery-Powered Friends

Friday January 20, 2017

Welcoming a robot into her family was never Maxine Duncan’s idea of a support aide in her older years. But this winter, she and her partner, Herbert Yarbrough, signed up to test a telepresence robot in their retirement community, the Heritage Downtown, in Walnut Creek, Calif. Their new pal has a screen for a head and scuttles around on wheels. The lure was being able to connect more easily with their families via video calls.

The couple were immediately smitten. They have named the robot Jimmy.

“It’s an easy name to remember,” said Ms. Duncan, 86, a former real estate broker. And Mr. Yarbrough, 89, takes the robot on the elevator to pick up breakfast downstairs.

“We want to keep up on technology,” said Ms. Duncan, who covets a self-driving car. “A lot of older people are isolated from people and ideas. Now we’re on the cutting edge.”

Rosie, the robot from “The Jetsons,” has arrived.

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