Socially Assistive Robotics: Researchers Develop AI-Based Robot For Autistic Children

In a new study published in Science Robotics, researchers reported that robots, programmed using artificial intelligence, can also help children with ASD develop the social skills they need in order to communicate more effectively.

The study described a new computer model, dubbed Socially Assistive Robotics, or SAR, designed to provide personalized verbal and visual feedback to children with ASD as they play space-themed math games on a tablet, games that the researchers also developed. And much like therapists, these robots use the games to prompt children to perform social tasks.

After the study was completed, the researchers assessed the participants” engagement, and found that the robot could autonomously detect whether or not the child was engaged with 90 per cent accuracy.

Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR)

Socially assistive robotics (SAR) has great potential to provide accessible, affordable, and personalized therapeutic interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, human-robot interaction (HRI) methods are still limited in their ability to autonomously recognize and respond to behavioral cues, especially in atypical users and everyday settings. This work applies supervised machine-learning algorithms to model user engagement in the context of long-term, in-home SAR interventions for children with ASD.

Why do children with autism need an AI-based intervention

  • Children with autism face developmental delays.
  • By listening to the robot give instructions and feedback and responding to those instructions, the child improves overall in his or her ability of social interaction.
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