Toddlers Embrace Our (Giggling) Robotic Overlords

Toddlers will play with and yes, embrace, robotic playmates, according to researchers from the University of California at San Diego. I have to apologize for two things before proceeding. First, I think this is really last year's story; as far as I can tell, the research paper was presented in 2006. Second, I've always thought that I was above using the "_______ welcome our ______ robotic overlords" construction. Sigh.

It's still a good story, though, and I don't have it on my site.


(QRIO and the toddlers get along)

J. Movellan and F. Tanaka observed the interactions between a classroom full of toddlers aged 18 months to two years. The QRIO robot stayed in the middle of the room using its sensors to avoid bumping into kids or objects. Its initial programming was to giggle when children touched its head; it could also sit down and then lie down when its power was out.

Over a period of months, toddlers seemed to interact with QRIO in much the same way that they did with each other. Researchers measured this by looking at how often they touched QRIO; mostly, they touched the robot on the arms and hands, rather than the face and legs.

Over months, the children appeared to care for QRIO in the same way that they did for each other. When QRIO fell down, the children helped it up. When it ran out of power, they covered it with a blanket, as if it was sleeping, saying "night, night."

Movellan remarks

"The study shows that current technology is very close to being able to produce robots able to bond with toddlers, at least over long periods of time."

An interesting side result of the study came about when researchers made more use of QRIO's capabilities. The original QRIO is capable of complex movements, as shown in the video below.


(QRIO struts its stuff - seriously!)

However, when researchers allowed QRIO to carry out more complicated movements, like dancing all the time on its own, the children lost interest quickly. When researchers let QRIO go back to its simpler behavior, children played with it as a peer again.

Science fiction writers like Brian Aldiss have long thought about how children (and adults) would consider robotic playmates. In his 1969 story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, an adult interacts with a robotic playmate.

"Come down here, Teddy!"

She stood impassively, watching the little furry figure as it climbed down from step to step on its stubby limbs. When it reached the bottom, she picked it up and carried it into the living room. It lay unmoving in her arms, staring up at her. She could feel just the slightest vibration from its motor.

"Stand there, Teddy. I want to talk to you."
(Read more about Teddy the robotic bear

Interestingly, the researchers noted that it was possible that robots could be useful as "teacher's assistant," a role similar to that played by Teddy, who answered questions about its owner's behavior.

Also, as I noted above, the QRIO robot was discontinued when Sony shut down its unprofitable robot division. However, there are rumors that Toyota might buy it and do something with it.

Read more about Robot becomes one of the kids and take a look at the abstract for the original paper at Behavior Analysis of Children's Touch on a Small Humanoid Robot: Long-term Observation at a Daily Classroom over Three Months. More info about Sony QRIO and possible Toyota resurrection of QRIO.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/6/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

M-Blocks 2.0 Self-Assembling Robots
'Faster the cubes moved...' - Abraham Merritt, 1920.

Digit V2 Bipedal Robot From Agility Robotics
Oh, and now I suppose someone will develop the robotic porch pirate.

Hail SmartCan! Your Trash Bin Takes Itself Out
'...a waste can twenty feet away stirred into life.' - Harry Harrison, 1959.

Robot Tuna Swims As Fast As Nature's Tuna
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.' - Michael Swanwick, 2002.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.'

Magic Mushroom Nose Spray From Silo Wellness
'I don't need help... that's not my diagnosis!'

CAV-X Supercavitating Ammo Deadly Underwater
'...in the midst of this fluid, which is very dense compared with the atmosphere, shots could not go far.'

Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...'

Injectable Magnetic Fluid Slows Bleeding, Aids Magneto
'There's something different about you.'

Autonomous Wheelchairs Improve Airport Mobility
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

HVSD, Kitty Hawk's Electric Plane
Very quiet commuter plane offers VTOL service.

Frictionless Toilet Could Save 140 Billion Liters Of Water
'The bowl was a frictionless surface...'

Viisights AI Hones Video Surveillance
'The math boys worked it out...'

Cybertruck The Solar-Powered Steel Tortoise
'It drew its power from... sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

Road Noise Charges Electric Cars With Peugeot Piezoelectric Billboard
''... major cities of Earth have free electrical power conveniently processed from their own noise.'

Unsinkable Metal Latest Gates Obsession
'A metal... light as cork.'

M-Blocks 2.0 Self-Assembling Robots
'Faster the cubes moved...'

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.'

Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.