To appeal to young children, the robot prototype in this new project resembles a cute, stuffed animal-like dragon. Its movement appears very life-like and can be remotely controlled through an Internet interface.
“Certain non-verbal cues like mimicking behavior to improve rapport and social bonding, or changes in gaze direction to guide shared attention, are central,” DeSteno said. “When kids learn from human teachers, these cues enhance the learning. We’re designing our new dragon robots to be able to have these capabilities.”
Researchers will situate the child and the robot at a table in a preschool setting to interact with each other and observe the exchange of social and emotional cues that show approval and engagement, such as nodding and eye gaze, while an operator controls the robot from a computer.