Robots to help children to form relationships

May 29, 2007

A project which is using robots to help children with developmental or cognitive impairments to interact more effectively has just started at the University of Hertfordshire.

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, Dr. Ben Robins and Dr. Ester Ferrari at the University’s School of Computer Science are partners in the European Sixth Framework funded, €3.22 million Interactive Robotic Social Mediators as Companions (IROMEC) project which is investigating the use of robotic toys to enable children with disabilities to develop social skills.

Dr. Robins, the team member responsible for the work with robots and special needs children, has carried out extensive research into the types of robots which could help children with autism and other learning difficulties to interact most effectively.

He is now taking KASPAR (Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics), a robot developed at the University of Hertfordshire which resembles a little boy into schools in the Hertfordshire region to carry out a series of trials to assess progress.

“During our earlier work on the AuRoRA (Autonomous mobile Robot as a Remedial tool for Autistic children), we used very plain robots which were received well, and a more elaborate doll with few movement abilities that could encourage imitation and turn-taking behaviour during playful interactions. This previous research led to us using KASPAR, a child-sized humanoid robot, with minimum facial expressions, which can move its arms and legs and allows the child to interact with it,” said Dr. Robins.

Over the next three years, IROMEC will investigate how robotic toys can become social mediators encouraging children with disabilities to discover a range of play skills, from solitary to social and cooperative play and provide opportunities for other children and carers/teachers or parents to “join” in.

“The idea is that the robot will be a mediator for human contact,” said Dr. Robins. ‘We are seeing already that through interacting with the robot, children who would not normally mix are becoming interested in getting involved with other children and humans in general and we believe that this work could pave the way for having robots in the classroom and in homes to facilitate this interaction.”

Source: University of Hertfordshire

Explore further: Pinterest buys startup with image organizing skills

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft unveils Xbox in China as it faces probe

11 minutes ago

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices.

Classic Lewis Carroll character inspires new ecological model

13 minutes ago

Inspired by the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, collaborators from the University of Illinois and National University of Singapore improved a 35-year-old ecology model to better understand how species ...

Teens love vacation selfies; adults, not so much

51 minutes ago

(AP)—Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft unveils Xbox in China as it faces probe

6 hours ago

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices.

Teens love vacation selfies; adults, not so much

6 hours ago

(AP)—Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie ...

Tiny UAVs and hummingbirds are put to test

7 hours ago

Hummingbirds in nature exhibit expert engineering skills, the only birds capable of sustained hovering. A team from the US, British Columbia, and the Netherlands have completed tests to learn more about the ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

9 hours ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

User comments : 0