Robot helps development of autistic children

Darwin-OP2, a human-like robot, brings one of the most advanced technologies in assisted robotics and humanoid interaction

Programmed by Korean Chung Hyuk Park, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at George Washington University, Darwin-OP2 was designed to help autistic children between 3 to 10 years old develop their social skills.

As the professor declared, “the ultimate goal would be to utilize a robotic system to help the children with autism in communicating with others more easily and feeling more comfortable in daily living.”

The project, yet in its early stages, uses artificial intelligence to analyze the human behaviour. Darwin-OP2 can interact and play with the children, while replicating applied behavior analysis therapy model.

Moreover, the robot is programmed to collect data on the child’s behaviour, which can be extremely relevant when trying to understand this complex spectrum disorder.

“Children with autism have trouble understanding and engaging other people’s emotions, and with socially assistive robots, the child may be more readily engaged without being overwhelmed,” explains Laurie Dickstein-Fischer, assistant professor at Massachusetts’ Salem State University’s School of Education.

After testing, the programme will be implemented in schools, development centers and other autistic care facilities in the U.S.