ChildBot: Multi-Robot Perception and Interaction with Children

Robotic systems which are interacting with humans have been being used in different spheres; however, they usually are highly specialized. A recent paper proposes a multifunctional system called ChildBot created to perform educational tasks.

It is capable of multitasking and has a wide range of perceptual and actuation abilities. For instance, the robot can localize speakers, track objects, recognize visual activity and speech. These perception modules are being used in different games, such as “Show me the Gesture”, “Express the Feeling” or “Pantomime”. 96.8 % of children said they felt good when playing with robots after participating in the interaction. The abilities of ChildBot may be extended for use in different pedagogical tasks, like rehabilitation or assistive applications for children with autism spectrum disorders.

In this paper we present an integrated robotic system capable of participating in and performing a wide range of educational and entertainment tasks, in collaboration with one or more children. The system, called ChildBot, features multimodal perception modules and multiple robotic agents that monitor the interaction environment, and can robustly coordinate complex Child-Robot Interaction use-cases. In order to validate the effectiveness of the system and its integrated modules, we have conducted multiple experiments with a total of 52 children. Our results show improved perception capabilities in comparison to our earlier works that ChildBot was based on. In addition, we have conducted a preliminary user experience study, employing some educational/entertainment tasks, that yields encouraging results regarding the technical validity of our system and initial insights on the user experience with it.