When TDT visited Georgia Tech, we saw Aldebaran robots used for work with special needs children. An article in today’s St. Petersburg Times, which originally appeared in the New York Times (A Soft Spot for Circuitry), talks about growing use of “robot therapy” in environments ranging from nursing homes, to substance abuse counseling to diet coaching.
Paro is a robotic harp seal that “trills and paddles when petted, blinks when the lights go up, opens its eyes at loud noises and yelps when handled roughly or held upside down. Two microprocessors under its artificial white fur adjust its behavior based on information from dozens of hidden sensors that monitor sound, light, temperature and touch. It perks up at the sound of its name, praise and, over time, the words it hears frequently. ”
The article looks at lots of interesting social, ethical, and technical questions and issues. Read the whole thing and see some interesting video footage at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/science/05robot.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&ref=amy_harmon