Over 2.5 million children in the US are required to stay home due to
medical conditions. They are socially isolated, physically segregated,
and current educational practices largely exclude them from their school
communities. Telepresence robots have emerged as a possible means to
support these children to return to their local schools, however, it is
not yet understood how homebound children can effectively use these
robots for optimal learning and social development experiences.
The goal of this project is to advance robot-mediated learning in schools, and
investigate how co-robots can facilitate optimal learning experiences.
The PIs will 1) Identify best practices and guidelines for the use of
embodied co-robots in schools to best facilitate learning and social
development; 2) Design new inclusive interfaces and control modalities
for homebound children to use mobile telemanipulators, and 3) Pioneer
new inclusive robotics curricula to support children with disabilities
entering the STEM workforce.
This project will yield new knowledge in multiple fields, including human-robot interaction, education, and
healthcare. This project will also promote the progress of science by
exploring how to make mobile telemanipulators accessible to people with
disabilities, including new insights in the creation of future robot
systems that can be dynamically reconfigured by end users without
requiring domain expertise.
This work will benefit society through insights into robot-mediated
interaction which can extend to other domains, such as telemedicine,
telehealth, and others who experience barriers to remaining socially
connected to their real-world communities. The results of this project
will bring to the forefront societal, educational, fiscal, and ethical
issues concerning human-operated co-robots in public spaces, and explore
new ways to be inclusive of children underrepresented both in society at
large as well as in STEM fields.
This project will inform several key research questions including: 1)
Identifying robot-mediated learning tasks that contribute to optimal
learning; 2) Creating best practices and guidelines that incorporate
social norms for daily co-robot interactions; 3) Designing new
accessible, adaptable, and usable control modalities for mobile
telemanipulation for homebound children; 4) Leveraging interaction with
an embodied co-robot to motivate interest in STEM, with a particular
focus on medically homebound children and children with disabilities.