Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More Robot Teachers

"Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot

LOS ANGELES — The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion.

The two hit it off quickly — unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism — and the boy is imitating his playmate’s every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms.

“Like Simon Says,” says the autistic boy’s mother, seated next to him on the floor.

Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall.

But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high.

Up goes the boy’s arm — and now he is smiling at the machine.

In a handful of laboratories around the world, computer scientists are developing robots like this one: highly programmed machines that can engage people and teach them simple skills, including household tasks, vocabulary or, as in the case of the boy, playing, elementary imitation and taking turns.

So far, the teaching has been very basic, delivered mostly in experimental settings, and the robots are still works in progress, a hackers’ gallery of moving parts that, like mechanical savants, each do some things well at the expense of others.

Yet the most advanced models are fully autonomous, guided by artificial intelligence software like motion tracking and speech recognition, which can make them just engaging enough to rival humans at some teaching tasks..."

Read the full article at its source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/science/11robots.html?scp=4&sq=FIRST+student+robotics&st=nyt

Robot Helps Kids with Autism Communicate 

AND this excellent article...

"The RUBI Project: Preschoolers and autistic children benefit from teacher robots

Computer scientists from the University of Southern California have designed a three-foot-tall robot named “RUBI” to teach autistic children using repetitive therapy.
The researchers believe that RUBI could help “train” an autistic child to learn various social interactions, such as how to understand one’s personal space, and how to identify sad or happy emotions. (Researchers state that essentially RUBI was designed to “act like a cautious child hoping to join a playground game”). Although RUBI wasn’t programmed to speak, it does have to two words in can pronounce: “Uh-huh,” whenever a child comes closer to it, or “Aww,” if the child moves away. The robot is also designed to maintain eye contact, and can move its arms up and down.
The researchers have already tested RUBI on a 6-year-old autistic child, and throughout their teaching session he was interacting with the robot, and even mimicked its movements. RUBI was also tested on a preschooling class, and the researchers claim that the robot actually improved their test scores. However, when RUBI was first introduced to the preschoolers, two males students started to pick on the robot and pulled its arms off. The engineers then programmed RUBI to cry when its arms were pulled, and amazingly enough the children backed off as soon as they heard the robot’s sobs.

Will robots eventually replace human teachers? In South Korea, it’s already happening..."

Read the full article at its source: http://www.onlinedegrees.org/the-rubi-project-preschoolers-and-autistic-children-benefit-from-teacher-robots/

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