Introduction to Robots and AuRoRA
While the world may seem a complex and unpredictable place to autistic children, the gradual integration into this world is an important factor in their ability to live a 'normal' life. The confusing nature of the environment, and social interaction in particular, has the effect of causing the child to withdraw into a personal world. Autistic children seem most comfortable when playing with simple toys and when they are alone. However, this environment may not be ideal for their development. The use of a robotic platform is an attempt to bridge the gulf between the stable, predictable and safe environment of a simple toy, and the potentially unpredictable world of human contact and learning. People's social behaviour can be very subtle and widely unpredictable, on the other hand the use of robot can allow simplified environment and at the same time the gradual increase in complexity of interaction, according to the individual child's abilities.
The robots can be used to teach the children basic social interaction skills using turn-taking and imitation games. The use of robots as mediators, as objects of shared attention can further encourage interaction with peers and adults .
The robots used in the project
Labo1 robot provided by Applied AI Systems, Canada.
Pekee robot provided by Wany Robotics, France.
Pekee is an oval shaped with plastic casing robot with two motorized wheels, and freely rotating caster wheel. It has 15 infrared distance measurement sensors, and other optional sensors such as temperature, shock and light sensors.
Provided by Aude Billard, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Robota is a 45 cm high, humanoid robotic doll. The main body of the doll contains the electronic boards and the motors that drive the arms, legs and head giving 1 DOF to each. The robot has also the capability of being connected to various sensors such as infrared emitters/ receivers, light detectors and more.
For more information on the doll robot see: Billard, A. (2003) Robota: Clever Toy and Educational Tool. Robotics & Autonomous Systems, 42, 259-269.
KASPAR has 8 degrees of freedom in the head and neck and 6 in the arms and hands. The face is a silicon-rubber mask, which is supported on an aluminium frame. It has 2 DOF eyes fitted with video cameras, and a mouth capable of opening and smiling.
"AIBO ERS-7" - Sony Corporation.
Aibo ERS-7 is a mobile robotic dog. It weights approximately 1.6kg with the
following dimensions: 180 (w) * 278 (h) * 319 (d) mm. It has many different
sensors (e.g. temperature, acceleration, electric static, pressure sensor,
infrared, stereo microphones.). A wireless LAN connection can be established
between the robot and a laptop, whereby the robot can notably send current
states of its sensors every 32ms."