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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
Robots will never replace teachers but can boost children's education. Scientists say social robots are proving effective in the teaching of certain narrow subjects, such as vocabulary or prime numbers. But current technical limitations -- particularly around speech recognition and the ability for social interaction -- mean their role will largely be confined to that of teaching assistants or tutors, at least for the foreseeable future. The study was led by Professor in Robotics Tony Belpaeme, from the University of Plymouth and Ghent University, who has worked in the field of social robotics for around two decades. He said: "In recent years scientists have started to build robots for the classroom -- not the robot kits used to learn about technology and mathematics, but social robots that can actually teach. This is because pressures on teaching budgets, and calls for more personalized teaching, have led to a search for technological solutions. "In the broadest sense, social robots have the potential to become part of the educational infrastructure just like paper, white boards, and computer tablets. But a social robot has the potential to support and challenge students in ways unavailable in current resource-limited educational environments. Robots can free up precious time for teachers, allowing the teacher to focus on what people still do best -- provide a comprehensive, empathic, and rewarding educational experience." The current study, compiled in conjunction with academics at Yale University and the University of Tsukuba, involved a review of more than 100 published articles, which have shown robots to be effective at increasing outcomes, largely because of their physical presence. However it also explored in detail some of the technical constraints highlighting that speech recognition, for example, is still insufficiently robust to allow the robot to understand spoken utterances from young children. It also says that introducing social robots into the school curriculum would pose significant logistical challenges and might in fact carry risks, with some children being seen to rely too heavily on the help offered by robots rather than simply using them when they are in difficulty. In their conclusion, the authors add: "Next to the practical considerations of introducing robots in education, there are also ethical issues. How far do we want the education of our children to be delegated to machines? Overall, learners are positive about their experiences, but parents and teaching staff adopt a more cautious attitude. "Notwithstanding that, robots show great promise when teaching restricted topics with the effects almost matching those of human tutoring. So although the use of robots in educational settings is limited by technical and logistical challenges for now, it are highly likely that classrooms of the future will feature robots that assist a human teacher." Content gathered by BTM robotics training centre, robotics in Bangalore, stem education in Bangalore, stem education in Bannerghatta road, stem educationin 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.
Next-generation robotic cockroach can explore under water environments. The next generation of Harvard's Ambulatory Micro robot (HAMR) can walk on land, swim on the surface of water, and walk underwater, opening up new environments for this little bot to explore. In nature, cockroaches can survive underwater for up to 30 minutes. Now, a robotic cockroach can do even better. Harvard's Ambulatory Microrobot, known as HAMR, can walk on land, swim on the surface of water, and walk underwater for as long as necessary, opening up new environments for this little bot to explore. This next generation HAMR uses multifunctional foot pads that rely on surface tension and surface tension induced buoyancy when HAMR needs to swim but can also apply a voltage to break the water surface when HAMR needs to sink. This process is called electro wetting, which is the reduction of the contact angle between a material and the water surface under an applied voltage. This change of contact angle makes it easier for objects to break the water surface. Moving on the surface of water allows a microrobot to evade submerged obstacles and reduces drag. Using four pairs of asymmetric flaps and custom designed swimming gaits, HAMR robo-paddles on the water surface to swim. Exploiting the unsteady interaction between the robot's passive flaps and the surrounding water, the robot generates swimming gaits similar to that of a diving beetle. This allows the robot to effectively swim forward and turn. "This research demonstrates that microrobotics can leverage small-scale physics—in this case surface tension—to perform functions and capabilities that are challenging for larger robots, " said Kevin Chen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and first author of the paper. The most recent research is published in the journal Nature Communications. "HAMR's size is key to its performance, " said Neel Doshi, graduate student at SEAS and co-author of the paper. "If it were much bigger, it would be challenging to support the robot with surface tension and if it were much smaller, the robot might not be able to generate enough force to break it." HAMR weighs 1.65 grams (about as much as a large paper clip), can carry 1.44 grams of additional payload without sinking and can paddle its legs with a frequency up to 10 Hz. It's coated in Parylene to keep it from shorting under water. Once below the surface of the water, HAMR uses the same gait to walk as it does on dry land and is just as mobile. To return to dry land HAMR faces enormous challenge from the water's hold. A water surface tension force that is twice the robot weight pushes down on the robot, and in addition the induced torque causes a dramatic increase of friction on the robot's hind legs. The researchers stiffened the robot's transmission and installed soft pads to the robot's front legs to increase payload capacity and redistribute friction during climbing. Finally, walking up a modest incline, the robot is able break out of the water's hold. This robot nicely illustrates some of the challenges and opportunities with small-scale robots, " said senior author Robert Wood, Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS and core faculty member of the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. "Shrinking brings opportunities for increased mobility—such as walking on the surface of water—but also challenges since the forces that we take for granted at larger scales can start to dominate at the size of an insect." 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.
Sony revives Aibo robot dog after 11 years Sony is to breathe new life into its Aibo robotic dog, releasing a new - and much cuter - version more than a decade after shelving its original line of tech pets. The Japanese robot-dog can respond to human actions and voice commands and bark, sit and wag its tail and play. Aibo can also learn actions that keep its users happy, while users will be able to connect the dog to the cloud to let it learn further actions from other Aibo dogs. Sony's original Aibo was one of the first artificial intelligence products built for ordinary consumers, first released in 1999. Aibo, a meaning partner in Japanese (but which neatly also stands for AI bot), had new models released every year until 2005. The futuristic family pet preceded smartphones and apps and was used both as a domestic toy and in research projects exploring human and AI interaction. The original featured lifelike, if slightly slow and clunky, movements and used computer vision to interact with the world around it. However, Sony ultimately stopped production of Aibo in 2006 after it was forced to slash its product line-up in a cost-cutting exercise. But the robot remained an early icon of future homes, and Sony briefly revived the dog for use in its Xperia phone marketing campaigns. Aibo will have OLED eyes, stand a foot tall, weigh two kilograms, have a two-hour battery life and start at 198, 000 Yen (£1, 300). It will also set users back a monthly subscription fee worth around £20 per month. Aibo will only be available in Japan. 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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