Robots may not exactly be taking over the world, but developments in the field of robotics may be heading us toward a better world. Check out these recent stories:
Robotics Trends: Robot Speaks the Language of Kids
Two researchers with the Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention (CHIP) at the University of Connecticut are studying whether a small robot with a big personality holds the potential to help children with autism improve both their motor and their social communication skills.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests interventions using robot-child interactions may enhance motor and social communication skills of children with low- and high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but there are very few clinical trials currently testing robot-child interactions as therapy for ASD,” says Anjana Bhat, a principal investigator with CHIP.
Bhat, an assistant professor of kinesiology in the Neag School of Education, recently received a two-year, $404,639 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to design a series of robot-child interactions that would help improve the gross motor skills and the imitative and turn-taking abilities of children with ASD. The second two-year phase of the project will include a clinical trial of the intervention with 20 children with ASD and 20 typically developing children between the ages of four and eight.
Read the complete story at http://www.roboticstrends.com/research_academics/article/robot_speaks_the_language_of_kids
PhysOrg looks at Robots that Develop Emotions In Interactions with Humans
The first prototype robots capable of developing emotions as they interact with their human caregivers and expressing a whole range of emotions have been finalised by researchers.
Led by Dr. Lola Cañamero at the University of Hertfordshire, and in collaboration with a consortium of universities and robotic companies across Europe, these robots differ from others in the way that they form attachments, interact and express emotion through bodily expression.
Developed as part of the interdisciplinary project FEELIX GROWING (Feel, Interact, eXpress: a Global approach to development with Interdisciplinary Grounding), funded by the European Commission and coordinated by Dr. Cañamero, the robots have been developed so that they learn to interact with and respond to humans in a similar way as children learn to do it, and use the same types of expressive and behavioural cues that babies use to learn to interact socially and emotionally with others.
Visit http://www.physorg.com/news200850232.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter for the full story
Science Daily looks at Teaching Robot Helps Children to Use Wheelchair
ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2010) — A robotic wheelchair is being developed that will help children learn to ‘drive’. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation describe the testing of ROLY — RObot-assisted Learning for Young drivers — in a group of children without disabilities and one child with cerebral palsy.
Laura Marchal-Crespo, worked with a team of researchers at the University of California at Irvine, USA, to carry out the study. She said, “The conventional approach for powered wheelchair driver’s training is expensive and labor-intense, typically requiring the hand-over-hand assistance of a skilled therapist. To lower the cost and improve accessibility to training, we have developed a robotic powered wheelchair system on which young children with a disability can safely develop driving skills at their own pace with minimum assistance.”
Full story here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812192059.htm
And then there’s the Ellis family, taking AI to the next level, profiled in Childless Millionaire Builds Intelligent Robot…
Tony Ellis and his wife, Judie, do not have any children or animals at home – but with chatterbox robot Aimec following them around, there is never a dull moment.
The couple effectively have a robotic child, just like in the 2001 futuristic fairy tale Artificial Intelligence starring Haley Joel Osment.
Their creation is so advanced it can tell jokes and keep its human parents up to date on their interests by scanning the internet.
Mr Ellis has spent years creating the four-foot plastic robot in an echo of Geppetto, the fairy tale carpenter who crafted a puppet son that came to life called Pinocchio.
The New York Times reports on classroom applications of robotics (Students, Meet Your New Teacher, Mr. Robot) that TDT members learned about while visiting Georgia Tech in April, during the FIRST World Championship:
From the article:
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 story at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/science/11robots.html