Friday, September 7, 2018

Robots Can Inspire.

Having been in technologies for far too many years to mention, I have always been amazed at the discovery of the unexpected paths when new technologies are introduced. Two recent studies have proven once again, that introducing a new technology, in this case, a robot, into a sector can generate new and innovative approaches to doing things.
In the first instance, using robots to teach children seems like the right idea and the right approach. Using robots to teach children expands available instructional resources and robots have the patience to repeat and re-iterate until the correct answer to a question is provided by a student. These are just a few of the attributes of ‘teaching’ robots. There are many more of course. But researchers are discovering that turning the tables can make for a great learning experience. Have the children teach the robot! This approach is the result of an expanding field of robotics studies and a class of robots called “Care Receiving Robots” (CCR). Children take on the task of helping the robot learn to do something and by doing so learn the subject themselves. Suddenly, the number of potential ideas for such an approach is seemingly endless.

In a similarly structured project that I am involved with, students are challenged with a planetary exploration where the robots are on a remote planet, but the students need to solve problems or overcome challenges managed from their Earth-bound operations Center. They need to teach the robots to explore the planet and prepare the new planet’s base of operations in anticipation of humans arriving on the planet.

In another sector, autism, it is deemed beneficial to utilize robots in the delivery of robot-mediated behavior intervention in autism. The approach has been to provide the robots as an augmented resource to/with a professional therapist to deliver the intervention session. Here again, researchers have determined that it is possible and beneficial for family members themselves to use the robot in their homes and thereby expand the amount of therapeutic time that can be given to a child with autism. This is especially powerful as therapy in a home-based environment is a more natural and less threatening environment than a school room or a therapist’s office location. This approach now opens the pathway to an increased utilization of robots in autism behavior interventions which in turn expands the number of hours that can be applied to therapies and skills development.
So, there we have it, inspirations. Children teaching robots and robots in the home doing therapies. These are just two examples of what I have seen time and time again or as the old showman’s saying goes, when it comes to robots: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Mike is Chairman of the Technology Advisory for ChartaCloud ROBOTTECA