Robot teacher has human touch

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Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:25 am

PostSat May 09, 2009 6:25 am » by Dirtyrabbit

Robot teacher has human touch
The world's first robot teacher proved a hit with pupils on her first day at a Japanese primary school.

One pupil described Saya as "pretty" another said that she was a bit "scary but fun" while another said that he "couldn't believe he was getting taught by a robot".

First, she called the name of each child before asking the pupils to carry out tasks from a text book for the pilot project in Kudan Primary School, next to Tokyo University.

Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi, of Tokyo's University of Science, who has been developing the robot for 15 years, said: "The children were not fazed by Saya at all.

"They don't see her as a humanoid but human. They were very happy and surprised when she was able to call their names. They treated Saya like a real teacher."

Saya's steel skull is covered with fine latex cast from a female university student. Underneath, a system of 18 motors works like muscles to give her facial expressions including surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness and sadness.

The robot is able to talk, potentially in any language, move her head and respond to questions. She currently speaks around 300 phrases and has a vocabulary of 700 words and is programmed to respond to words and questions.

It is planned that the first robot teachers will be used in several classrooms where they will be operated by 'controller' teachers operating from a control centre.

Each teacher robot has a price tag up to £25,000. They are claimed to be the first economically viable robot and aim to make back their money in a couple of years.

"The aim is to develop something that is useful to society and humans in daily life. The robot teacher is the perfect application for a robot," added Professor Kobayashi.

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