What’s the best way to help a robot gain knowledge and learn how to interact in a manner that's socially acceptable to humans? Send it to school, of course.
Robovie, a robot by Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, (ATR) recently joined Higashihikari Elementary School’s science class for a 14-month study. In that time, Robovie will gather data in order to improve its ability to interact with people, both individually and in a group. The robot has photos and voiceprints of 119 fifth-grade pupils and teachers to help it recognize the people around it.
Robovie’s enrollment in a Kyoto school is part of ATR’s research into how humans and robots can co-exist. A school is the perfect setting due to the way children learn to interact with each other, which means more data for the robot to collect. At present, the robot may have the knowledge of a fifth-grade textbook, but the social ability of a five year old.
It seems that Robovie is already quite the teacher’s pet, though: On its first day, Robovie greeted everyone and was then the first to answer a question about copper coils. After class, it shook students’ hands and spoke with them. Let’s just hope those fifth graders don’t teach Robovie pranks to play on its developers!