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India: Buddy Robot to Revolutionise Learning

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A school in Besant Nagar, Chennai aims to change traditional education patterns with a buddy robot. Tailored for school-going children, the device offers capabilities beyond its role as a study aid. According to an official from the school, the robot can sing, dance, play football with children, connect students and teachers across the globe, and even teach seven foreign languages.

The robot is less than four feet in height. And moves effortlessly on the ground. When activated, the automation features “an empathetic female voice that greets the viewer with a large pair of smiling, affectionate doe eyes”, a government report described.

The hands-free social robot can rotate its head from side to side and can look upward toward the operator, creating exchanges that are as tactile and immersive as human interactions. The robot can respond to an array of questions, spanning from factual data to study-related topics, demonstrating a remarkably intuitive understanding of human emotions and sentiments, the report said.

The objective is to close the gap between the children at privately-owned cancer hospitals in the region and the conventional classroom. The distinction lies in the fact that, rather than employing traditional blackboards and desks, the companion robot offers a black screen equipped with an intuitive network, connecting those in the hospital.

According to the official, it’s crucial to introduce automation and AI education to children from an early age enabling them to get to a “level of acquiring better skills than a robot”. The report said that the buddy robot essentially represents an avatar of the child. If a robot is present among students and they have a doubt, the device aids the child in resolving them. This initiative has been integrated into the curriculum, allowing kids to cultivate a friendship with this companion as part of their classroom experience.

In India, the field of robotics is rapidly advancing, showcasing a significant surge in technological innovation and adoption. From educational settings to industrial applications, robots are increasingly finding their place in various sectors.

In June, OpenGov Asia reported on Robomuse 5.0, which was developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Delhi). The mobile robot can transport payloads weighing up to 100 kilograms and can manipulate objects. It also serves as an excellent research platform for educational institutions and research organisations.

The mobile robot is designed to transport heavy objects within a factory setting. When equipped with a manipulator on its top, it can effectively execute pick-and-place operations, such as disposing of defective items in a bin. IIT-Delhi’s technology innovation hub, the I-Hub Foundation for Cobotics (IHFC), and a Pune-based company entered into a licensing agreement to facilitate the technology transfer of Robomuse 5.0.

Robomuse 5.0 incorporates ROS (Robot Operating System) capabilities and boasts a modular mechanical design that allows for a zero turning radius. The robot offers straightforward autonomous navigation and control.

The technology was originally developed by students from IIT-Delhi for the Doordarshan-Robocon (DDR) competition in 2008. Following its development, the robot’s resilience and stability were evaluated by deploying it at the institute’s Student Activity Centre (SAC). During this test, the robot autonomously navigated along a straight path for a continuous 24-hour period. The trial concluded when security personnel on duty reported that the robot had ceased to function.

Over the following years, Robomuse underwent numerous refinements via B. Tech. and M. Tech. projects and received feedback regularly. The robot has been exhibited at numerous conferences and exhibitions, and its software is protected by copyright.


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