The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as “personal trainers” for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits.
The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, “Robots Helping Kids,” will ultimately “deploy” robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise.
The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated ‘socially assistive’ robots,” designed to help children “learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises,” according to a news release by Yale University when the grant was first announced in 2012.
“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study.