Autism Robot

9:45 AM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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a cdc study found autism affects one in 88 children.

a doctoral student wants to help children with autism improve their communication and interaction skills. she's doing it with a robot. nbc's jennifer emert explains.

charlie is short for child centered adaptive robot for learning environments, designed to help kids with autism.

laura boccanfuso, creator): "she is designed to promote basic communication skills. two of the most important communication skills are imitation and turn taking."

charlie is designed to be handled by kids but oops sometimes kids play hard which is why she has some break away features.

laura boccanfuso, creator: "we want the robot to just be sitting on a table, and allow the child to explore her, touch the eyes, touch the nose, and the hands and get to know her so she and he feels comfortable interacting with the robot."

she can be remote controlled by a therapist, but also has a sensor in her nose to detect and imitate motions.

laura boccanfuso, creator: "she looks for the hand shapes and then she'll detect them and she'll imitate the movement."

creator laura boccanfuso also wants to know when a child gets agitated.

laura boccanfuso, creator: "that infrared sensor is super high precision so we can take changes in the skin temperature right under your nose and capture changes related to breathing."

while some kids respond well, others may not.

laura boccanfuso, creator: "in some cases if there seems to be a very quick escalation and we understand what preceded that event and we can earn a little bit more."

charlie is simple on purpose, inexpensive, so eventually one day if charlie is successful she would also be affordable for families at home.

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