Caretaker drones are automated servants that are typically used to assist the infirm and sick in place of human nurses. They can provide a variety of functions, such as washing, cleaning, assisting with movement, and administering medicine.
Caretaker drones were first invented by the Gallente, though precursor technology existed among the Amarr for centuries. The Amarr caretakers were little more than remote-controlled robots that could replicate some of the more mechanical functions of nurses, but were unable to complete more complex tasks or deal with any unusual circumstances.
The Gallente developed their caretaker drones independently of the Amarr, but the underlying principles are nearly identical. As with the Amarr, the earliest caretakers were robots that could assist nurses with difficult tasks, but always required a human operator to guide them. As drone technology became more advanced, the caretakers were able to slowly replace human nurses entirely.
Originally used primarily with high-need patients, caretaker drones are now found across New Eden in hospitals and nursing homes.
Caretaker drones are, at their core, relatively simple devices. Most take a vaguely humanoid shape, with two arms, a torso, and a head with a "face". Some have legs for locomotion, but many use treads or antigravity lifts for more efficient movement. Earlier drones were decidedly non-human and possessed a variety of forms; typically this meant several spider-like appendages and clusters of probes. However, these drones were found to be highly distressing, especially to children and patients with dementia, and were replaced with the more-familiar humanoid drones common today. These older drones still see some use as assistants to human nurses and in poverty-stricken areas where newer models cannot be afforded.
The drones are programmed to anticipate the needs of patients rather than simply respond to their requests. They are fast enough to notice slight changes in posture or expression that might indicate an oncoming fall or attack and react to minimize the risk of patient injury. They can additionally aid patients in dressing and undressing, as well as moving and cleaning bedridden patients to prevent the development of bed sores.
More advanced caretaker drones, typically those employed by wealthy recluses for home care, are capable of such complicated tasks as selecting outfits, preparing meals, and cleaning the home. When these sort of drones are used in households that do not contain the sick, they are referred to as housekeeper drones.
Caretaker drones are typically used in hospitals and nursing homes in high population areas that are not particularly wealthy. They replicate the functions of a human nursing staff, replacing them almost entirely. However, they are almost always supplemented by a number of human nurses who are more capable of dealing with unforeseen events and complications. A typical large hospital in the Federation may have one nurse for every dozen caretaker drone.
The drones have not replaced human nurses among private hospitals and nursing homes for the wealthy. This is because many consider the drones unnerving and slightly off putting compared to a human nurse. The caretaker drones are also unable to provide emotional support, though some patients have been known to form emotional bonds with their caretaker drones. This makes them less desired than human nurses for those who can afford to pay the extra cost having a human touch entails. While such institutions may still employ a number of caretaker drones, these are typically only supplementary and assist nurses in difficult tasks.