OMG - The New Kid In Class Is A . . . Robot!

By Meera Dolasia on February 13, 2013

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On February 5th, 2013, the fifth grade students at Japan's Higashihikari Elementary School welcomed a new student. However, unlike other newcomers, he was not shy and seemed to instantly recognize all 119 kids by their names. Impressed? You will be even more so, when you find out that Robovie is not human but a robot, masquerading as a fifth-grade student!

Developed by Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, the 1.2 meter (3.9 feet) tall student is part of a 14-month experiment to test if robots can gradually learn to interact naturally and assimilate with a group of people.

While the company has previously conducted several experiments in various settings, this is the longest duration by far, and is all part of their bigger vision of making robots household fixtures, previous attempts at which, have been quite unsuccessful. This time around they decided to pick a school because it allows the bot to gather and hopefully incorporate copious amounts of data from the active and curious kids around him.

And though Robovie's amazing memory may have impressed you, he does have an unfair advantage - Though his daily conversation level has been restricted to that of a five-year old in the hope that he will develop his vocabulary by interacting with the fifth graders, he was preprogrammed with the facial photos and voiceprints of all 119 fifth graders and teachers, as well as, the contents of the entire fifth grade science text book. Nonetheless, he impressed the class by answering correctly that a wound up copper wire could also be called a copper coil, prompting a fellow student to quip 'It's smarter than me'!

While still early, Robovie is doing quite well on the social front too - Not only did he acknowledge all the students in his grade but after class, also shook hands with the sixth graders and was even polite enough to answer all their questions, just like any other new student would do. But then, this is not the first time Robovie (or another version of him) has been around humans. In the past he has been assigned to many tasks including helping the elderly shop for groceries.

Resources: gizmag.com,mainichi.Jp

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733 Comments
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  • mmiller3
    mmiller34/21/2014
    he shook hands with a sixth grader thay are lukey
    • mmiller3
      mmiller34/21/2014
      that is realy awesome like 2 persent more awesome than mine craft
      • Herobrine4/7/2014
        If that robot had clothes on it would look soooooooooo more realistic but anyways lol to that robot
        • swagger jagger 4/2/2014
          omg
          • cori
            cori3/30/2014
            cool, I wonder how they made the robot.
            • kittylover101
              kittylover1013/25/2014
              cool
              • alexis3/13/2014
                omg this is cool
                • mya3/11/2014
                  this is really cool to see a robot do stuff people can
                  • brigon
                    brigon2/6/2014
                    man it boss
                    • jordan hargrove2/3/2014
                      super I wish I had a robot friend

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