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Therapy Robot Teaches Social Skills to Children with Autism For some children with autism, interacting with other people can be an uncomfortable, mystifying experience. Feeling overwhelmed with face-to-face interaction, such children may find it difficult to focus their attention and learn social skills from their teachers and therapists—the very people charged with helping them learn to socially adapt. What these children need, say some researchers, is a robot: a cute, tech-based intermediary, with a body, that can teach them how to more comfortably interact with their fellow humans. On the face of it, learning human interaction from a robot might sound counter-intuitive. Or just backward. But a handful of groups are studying the technology in an effort to find out just how effective these robots are at helping children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One of those groups is LuxAI, a young company spun out of the University of Luxembourg. The company says its QTrobot can actually increase these children’s willingness to interact with human therapists, and decrease discomfort during therapy sessions. University of Luxembourg researchers working with QTrobot plan to present their results on 28 August at RO-MAN 2018, IEEE’s international symposium on robot and human interactive communication, held in Nanjing, China. “When you are interacting with a person, there are a lot of social cues such as facial expressions, tonality of the voice, and movement of the body which are overwhelming and distracting for children with autism, ” says Aida Nazarikhorram, co-founder of LuxAI. “But robots have this ability to make everything simplified, ” she says. “For example, every time the robot says something or performs a task, it’s exactly the same as the previous time, and that gives comfort to children with autism.” Feeling at ease with a robot, these children are better able to focus their attention on a curriculum presented together by the robot and a human therapist, Nazarikhorram says. In the study that will presented at RO-MAN later this month, 15 boys ages 4 to 14 years participated in two interactions: one with QTrobot and one with a person alone. The children directed their gaze toward the robot about twice as long, on average, compared with their gaze toward the human. Repetitive behaviors like hand flapping—a sign of being uncomfortable and anxious—occurred about three times as often during sessions with the human, compared with the robot, according to the study. More importantly, with a robot in the room, children tend to interact more with human therapists, according to feedback the company received during its research, says Nazarikhorram. “The robot has the ability to create a triangular interaction between the human therapist, the robot, and the child, ” she says. “Immediately the child starts interacting with the educator or therapist to ask questions about the robot or give feedback about its behavior.” A number of groups have been developing digital therapeutics to treat psychiatric disorders, such as apps to treat substance abuse, and therapeutic video games to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. But there’s something about the embodied robot that gives it an edge over plain screens. “The child is just focused on the app and doesn’t interact with the person beside him, ” Nazarikhorram says. “With a robot, it’s the opposite.” Robot-based therapy for autism has been studied for more than a decade. For instance, scientists first conceived of KASPAR the social robot in the late 1990s. It is now being developed by scientists at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. And there are at least two other commercial robots for autism: Robokind’s Milo and Softbank Robotics’ NAO. The MIT Media Lab recently used NAO to test a machine learning network it built that is capable of perceiving children’s behavior. The algorithm can estimate the level of interest and excitement of children with autism during a therapy session. The research was published in June in Science Robotics. “In the end, we want the robots to be a medium towards naturalistic human-human interactions and not solely tools for capturing the attention of the kids, ” says Oggi Rudovic, at the MIT Media Lab, who co-authored the machine learning paper in Science Robotics. The ultimate goal is to equip children with autism “with social skills that they can apply in everyday life, ” he says, and LuxAI’s research “is a good step towards that goal.” However, more research, involving more children over longer periods of time, will be needed to assess whether robots can really equip children with real-life social skills, Rudovic says. The QTrobot is a very new product. LuxAI started building it in 2016, finished a final prototype in mid-2017, and just this year began trials at various centers in Luxembourg, France, Belgium, and Germany. Nazarikhorram says she wanted to build a robot that was practical for classrooms and therapy settings. Her company focused on making its robot easily programmable by autism professionals with no tech background, and able to run for hours without having to be shut down to cool. It also has a powerful processor and 3D camera so that no additional equipment, such as a laptop, is needed, she says. Now LuxAI is conducting longer-term trials, studying the robot’s impact on social competence, emotional well-being, and interaction with people, Nazarikhorram says. We asked Nazarikhorram if it’s possible that pairing robots with children with autism could actually move them further away from people, and closer to technology. “That’s one of the fears that people have, ” she says. “But in practice, in our studies and based on the feedback of our users, the interaction between the children and the therapists improves.” Content gathered by BTM robotics training center, robotics in Bangalore, stem education in Bangalore, stem education in Bannerghatta road, stem education in JP Nagar, robotics training centers in Bannerghatta road, robotics training centers in JP Nagar, robotics training for kids, robotics training for beginners, best robotics in Bangalore
SAY HI TO CIMON, THE FIRST AI-POWERED ROBOT TO FLY IN SPACE. When you thought that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is redefining life on Earth, think again! Meet CIMON, the first AI-powered robot who was launched into space from Florida on Friday, June 29th to join the crew and assist astronauts of the International Space Station (ISS). CIMON was launched by a SpaceX rocket carrying food and supplies for the crew aboard the International Space Station. At CIMON’s pre-launch news conference, Kirk Shireman, NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) program manager, addressed that the knowledge base and ability to tap into AI in a way that is useful for the task that is done is really critical for having humans further and further away from the planet. CIMON or (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) is programmed to answer voice commands in English. The AI-powered robot is roughly the size of a volleyball and weighs 5 kilograms. CIMON will float through the zero-gravity environment of the space station to research a database of information about the ISS. In addition to the mechanical tasks assigned, the AI-powered CIMON can even assess the moods of its human crewmates at the ISS and interact accordingly with them. An Intelligent Astronaut CIMON is the brainchild of the European aerospace company Airbus. With the artificial intelligence inside powered by IBM, AI-Powered CIMON was initially built for the German space agency. Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut currently aboard the ISS, assisted with the design of CIMON’s screen prompts and vocal controls. As per the mission description written by Airbus representatives, CIMON’s mission calls for the AI-Powered astronaut robot to work with Gerst on three separate investigations. Cimon’s tasks at ISS include experimenting with crystals, working together with Gerst to solve the Rubik’s cube and performing a complex medical experiment using itself as an ‘intelligent’ flying camera. CIMON can interact with anyone at ISS; the AI-powered robot will nod when any command is spoken in English. However, CIMON is programmed to specifically help Gerst during its first stay on the ISS. Alexander Gerst can make CIMON work by speaking commands in English like, ‘CIMON, could you please help me perform a certain experiment? or could you please help me with the procedure?'” In response, CIMON will fly towards Alexander Gerst, to start the communication. An Interactive Step Forward CIMON knows whom it is talking to through its inbuilt facial-recognition software. If you thought that CIMON would look like a mechanical robot, you are wrong. CIMON has a face of its own, a white screen with a smiley face. The astronaut AI assistant will be able to float around, by sucking air in and expelling it out through its special tubes once it is aboard the ISS. CIMON’s mission to space demonstrates researchers, the collaboration of humans and AI-powered technology for further explorations. However, it will be a long way before intelligent robots are ready to undertake principal tasks in the final frontier including helping astronauts repair damaged spacecraft systems or treating sick crewmembers. But a beginning has been made with CIMON and that day will probably be a reality soon. In its first space mission, CIMON will stay in space for a few months and is scheduled to return to earth in December. Post its return, scientists will study and assess its abilities for future implementations. With the launch of CIMON, a lifelong space-exploration association between humans and machine may have just begun. Content gathered by BTM robotics training centre, robotics in Bangalore, stem education in Bangalore, stem education in Bannerghatta road, stem education in JP Nagar, robotics training centres in Bannerghatta road, robotics training centres in JP Nagar, robotics training for kids, robotics training for beginners, best robotics in Bangalore.
Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators Popcorn is a cheap, biodegradable way to actuate a robot (once) People toss around the word “novel” fairly often in robotics papers, but this right here is the definition of a novel mechanism, and it might be one of the most creative ideas I’ve seen presented at a robotics conference in a long time. This is not to say that popcorn is going to completely transform robotic actuation or anything, but it’s weird enough that it might plausibly end up in some useful (if very specific) robotic applications. Why use popcorn to power an actuator? You can think of unpopped kernels of popcorn as little nuggets of stored mechanical energy, and that energy can be unleashed and transformed into force and motion when the kernel is heated. This is a very useful property, even if it’s something that you can only do once, and the fact that popcorn is super cheap and not only biodegradable but also edible are just bonuses. The “pop” in popcorn happens when enough heat is applied to vaporize the moisture inside the kernel. Over 900 kPa of internal pressure causes the yummy goo inside of the kernel to explode out through the shell, expand, and then dry. Relative to the size of the original kernel, the volume of a popped piece of popcorn has increased by a factor of at least five, although it can be much more, depending on the way the kernel was heated. Because of this variability, the first step in this research was to properly characterize the popcorn, and to do this the researchers, from Cornell’s Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab, picked up some Amish Country brand popcorn (chosen for lack of additives or postharvest treatment) in white, medium yellow, and extra small white. They heated each type using hot oil, hot air, microwaves, and direct heating with a nichrome resistance wire. The extra small white kernels, which were the cheapest at the US $4.80 per kilogram, also averaged the highest expansion ratio, exploding to 15.7 times their original size when popped in a microwave. Here’s what the researchers suggest that popcorn might be useful for in a robotics context: • Jamming actuator. “Jamming” actuators are compliant actuators full of a granular fluid (coffee grounds, for example) that will bind against itself and turn rigid when compressed, most often by applying a vacuum. If you use popcorn kernels as your granular fluid, popping them will turn the actuator rigid. It’s irreversible but effective: In one experiment, the researchers were able to use a jamming actuator filled with 36 kernels of popcorn to lift a 100-gram weight as it popped. • Elastomer actuator. An elastomer actuator is a hollow tube made out of an elastic material that’s constrained in one direction, such that if the tube is expanded, it will bend. Usually, these soft actuators are inflated with air, but you can do it with popcorn, too, and the researchers were able to use a trio of these actuators to make a sort of three-fingered hand that could grip a ball. • Origami actuator. Like elastomer actuators, origami actuators are constrained in one dimension to curling as they expand, but the origami structure allows this constraint to be built into the structure of the actuator as it’s folded. The researchers used recycled Newman’s Own Organic Popcorn bags to make their origami actuators, and 80 grams of popped kernels were able to hold up a 4 kg kettlebell. • Rigid-link gripper. Popcorn can be used indirectly as a power source by putting un-popped kernels in a flexible container in between two plates with wires attached to them. As the popcorn pops, the plates are forced apart, pulling on the wires. This can be used to actuate whatever you want, including a gripper. It’s certainly true that you could do most of these things completely reversibly by using air instead of popcorn. But, using air involves a bunch of other complicated hardware, while the popcorn only needs to be heated to work. Popcorn is also much easier to integrate into robots that are intended to be biodegradable (DARPA has been working on this), and it’s quite cheap. It’s probably best not to compare popcorn actuators directly to other types of robotic actuators, but rather to imagine situations in which a cheap or disposable robot would need a reliable single-use actuator, to open or deploy something. Content gathered by BTM robotics training centre, robotics in Bangalore, stem education in Bangalore, stem education in Bannerghatta road, stem education in JP Nagar, robotics training centres in Bannerghatta road, robotics training centres in JP Nagar, robotics training for kids, robotics training for beginners, best robotics in Bangalore.
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