‘Buddy Robot’ introduced in Chennai to teach school children about AI

A curious intervention in tech-aided education has landed on its robotic feet in Chennai. As the long sides of AI and assistive technology play with the limits of the man and machine paradigm, Anand P Surana, secretary and correspondent of Surana High Tech International School, Besant Nagar, aims to change traditional education patterns with buddy robots.

Designed for school-going children, the device can do more than just facilitate studying. According to Anand, it can sing, dance, play football with kids, connect pupils to teachers across the globe and teach seven foreign languages.

The robot is less than four feet in height. The device rolls seamlessly on the ground. On switching it on, the automation has an empathetic female voice that greets the viewer with a large pair of smiling, affectionate doe eyes.

The hands-free social robot can rotate its head from left to right and looks up to the operator, making exchanges as tactile as human interactions. When asked to dance, the small bot breaks into a small jig that makes every face smile.

The robot can answer questions ranging from data to study-related queries with a surprisingly instinctive recognition of human feelings and emotions. It aims to bridge the distance between the children of Apollo cancer hospital and the classroom. The only difference is instead of blackboards and desks, the buddy robot extends a black screen with an intuitive network to those confined within the walls of the hospital.

According to Anand, if we don’t teach automation and AI to kids right from the beginning, they will never get to the level of acquiring better skills than a robot. It is for a better tomorrow. The buddy robot is an avatar of the child. If a robot sits between students and they have a doubt, the device assists the child in resolving the same. They kept it as a part of the curriculum so kids could make this buddy a classroom friend.

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