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Daycare Robots - high-tech daycare?

Can daycare be made even more inhuman and impersonal?

Apparently so…In what seems to be an attempt to reduce daycare costs, Industry and Academia are teaming up to automate Childcare Workers’ jobs!


UCSD’s “soft and plump” Rubi robot

According to a C/NET article, "Enlisting robots for day care", dated 23 June 2005, two robots are being tested in the Early Childhood Education Center in San Diego.

The first is “Rubi”, developed by the University of California San Diego.
The robot can track heads, detect faces, interpret basic expressions, and teach songs. "She" has 4 wheels, a head, and two arms. Additionally, according to the article, UCSD built the robot to be "soft and plump", as shown in the photograph, left.

Sony’s humanoid Qrio robot

The other robot being tested at this San Diego daycare is Qrio, developed by Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories, Inc. The photo below reveals that this robot has a somewhat more humanoid appearance, as shown, left.

According to Sony’s website, http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/QRIO/story/index_nf.html , “Qrio can gather information and move around on its own accord.

Qrio not only walks on two legs, it can also manage uneven surfaces, dance, recognize people's faces and voices, and carry on conversation.
Qrio is eager to be friends with people.”
 


The PaPeRo robot is available in several colors.

A quick search of the Internet found yet another daycare robot!
This one is the PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot) Childcare robot by NEC Corporation's Personal Robot Research Center in Japan.
 

This robot has several capabilities, including recognizing faces, taking attendance (roll call), and being able to listen to several people at the same time.
"Moreover, PaPeRo reacts favorably to being touched or patted", notes the developer’s website at www.incx.nec.co.jp/robot/english/childcare/how.html.
 

So, it’s finally come to this…don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Last updated 09/30/2008

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