In the not-too-distant future, people who grew up watching shows like “The Jetsons” and “Lost in Space” in the 1960s could have helpful robot companions of their own. IBM Research announced in December 2016 that it had developed the prototype IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA) in partnership with Rice University faculty and students. IBM MERA is designed to monitor and assist elderly consumers and their caregivers. Currently, the prototype robot is being hosted at the “Aging in Place” research environment within IBM’s ThinkLab in Austin, Texas. In that facility, the company is testing how . . .