Although numerous companies has unveiled robots designed to help children learn how to code and build their own machines, Emotion Robotics has launched a robot that is much more reqarding than that.
Its Steve robot is being used at Priors Court school for children and young adults with autism to help develop its pupils’ social skills.
Because Steve doesn’t use facial expressions or varying tones of voice that can confuse or upset autistic children and adults, it’s much easier for those using it to understand what he means.
“It can engage children with communication problems, providing a tool for teachers to reach these children in a way that was not previously possible,” says Carl Clement, founder of Emotion Robotics, the technology company that programmed the robot.
The majority of the students at Priors Court can’t speak, have no idea of danger and they need help to understand how to communicate without using their voice. Some students can become very violent when struggling to communicate and Steve tries to rectify this by helping them communicate.
He can recognise faces and the subject of pictures, making him perfect to play card games with, using flash cards. He can also respond personally to the person who’s speaking to him and work out whether the subject he’s talking to is using eye contact.
“Pupils who, due to their autism, have difficulty relating to others, are comfortable interacting with the robot, making prolonged eye contact and responding to its demonstrations and instructions,” founder of Priors Court Dame Stephanie Shirley told Billionnaire when the robot launched last year.
“For parents, knowing that their child is safe, healthy and happy is a huge relief. Then come milestones such as being able to go out for a family meal — that is an enormous step forward.”