Navel is a pilot project of the Evangelische Heimstiftung that explores the question of what a social robot can do for people in a nursing home.

Together with the development team from navel robotics, we are researching at two locations how the small robot behaves in a real environment. Navel is equipped with artificial intelligence and is constantly learning. As part of a pilot project, we are observing him and further developing the robot. We are providing scientific support for the project through our own Institute for Care and Aging. The scientific study was reviewed by an independent ethics committee.


This is Navel

Navel is a social robot. He is innovative and uses the possibilities of artificial intelligence. 

What makes it special: Navel can interact with people. He interprets faces, voice or movements and reacts. Over time, Navel can remember people, hold conversations and tell jokes.

What Navel can do

  • Navel can interact with people, entertain and activate them. We hope that it will thus create more community, increase well-being and trigger positive emotions. If so, Navel could increase the quality of life for people in the nursing home.
  • Navel can approach people independently. We hope that in this way he will support our staff a little. Of course, he will never be able to replace them, because nursing is and remains a human profession.
  • Navel is very easy to operate and can be used by everyone - even if they are not technically gifted.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can artificial intelligence (AI) make our lives easier? As an innovative company, we at the Evangelische Heimstiftung are asking ourselves this question for care. As a diaconal company, we want to know how AI can serve the people we care for. How do residents like a robot, how do they interact with it, what are the opportunities and what do we need to pay attention to? We are using Navel to find out. It's a completely new experience for us, and for Navel, too, because it's the very first time he's been in a nursing home for an extended period of time.

  • We are testing navel in a pilot project at two EHS facilities. 
  • We are working closely with the development team, navel robotics. The team trains our employees and is present regularly during the project.
  • In each of the facilities, there is a contact person for all questions about Navel - including for employees, relatives and residents.
  • How do the residents react to Navel, how do they interact and communicate with it?
  • What effects does Navel have on the residents (e.g. triggering positive emotions, reducing challenging behaviors, reducing apathy and loneliness)?
  • What attitudes do employees in daily living assistance and care have toward social robots?
  • How do employees evaluate the use of Navel? Is Navel perceived as support and relief by the employees?
  • How can Navel be used in the context of everyday care?
  • Is there a recognizable benefit or added value for the facility through Navel? Can Navel contribute to "good care"?
  • What are the potential challenges and risks associated with using a social robot like Navel in residential care?
  • What needs to be considered and addressed when implementing a social robot like Navel? What is needed in terms of support, training for staff, etc.?

Navel is currently at the Haus im Wiesengrund in Albershausen and is learning every day. Another social robot will soon move into the Seniorenzentrum Rheinauer Tor facility in Mannheim.

  • Our data protection officers have, of course, extensively checked the use of Navel.
  • Navel has a very powerful computing processor. This means that it can process all the data it captures in real time itself.
  • The particularly private image data is evaluated directly on the robot in a fraction of a second and then immediately deleted. The audio data is converted into text in this prototype. The service providers do not
    these data further.
  • A data protection impact assessment was carried out in connection with the study and the use of Navel.

Digitization is changing life and work and posing new challenges for the Evangelische Heimstiftung. As a service provider and employer, the Evangelische Heimstiftung is therefore consciously opening itself up to the possibilities of digital technology. At the same time, technical progress should always serve people. For this reason, the Evangelische Heimstiftung has formulated ten ethical principles for digitalization.

The scientific study was reviewed by an independent ethics committee. In addition, the project is regularly discussed in the project advisory board, employees are questioned and actively accompanied during the project.




Dr. Judith Schoch
Head of Unit Institute for Care and Ageing

Tel. +49 711 63676-187