Yale designs robot ‘trainers’ for kids

Some day, robot “personal trainers” will teach kids to speak, read, exercise and eat their vegetables, say Yale researchers. A $10 million federal grant is funding the five-year project.

“Socially assistive” robots will help children “learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises,” the Yalies predict.

“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study.

“We want them to help children learn language, we want to help them learn better eating habits, we want them to learn new social or cognitive skills through their interactions with these robots,” he said.

The robots will support the efforts of parents and therapists, Scassellati said. Robots will be designed for children with special needs — and for average kids.

Support or replace? I suspect someone thinks robot trainers will act as competent parents for kids whose human parents are inferior models.


About Joanne


  1. Isaac Asimov’s 1940 short story, “Robbie” (in the “I, Robot” collection) tells the story of an early robot nanny (or playmate, or whatever).

    It’s not a bad story, by the way. (I think you’d like the “Cinderella” detail.)

  2. Pic courtesy of Uncanny X-Men #112, FWIW. 🙂