Robin – An autonomous robot toddler for diabetic children
Robin (a contraction of “Robot Infant”) is an autonomous robot toddler with “robot diabetes”. Developed by Lola Cañamero and Matthew Lewis to help children improve their confidence and skills in managing their own diabetes. Children can play with Robin, help satisfy his social and physical needs, and detect and correct diabetes-related symptoms.
The hardware is a standard Aldebaran NAO humanoid robot. Robin's behavior is controlled by software based on the principles of embodied AI, and our two decades of research into motivation in autonomous robots, modeled in terms of homeostatic control of essential variables. The use of an embodied AI autonomous robot allows unscripted, natural and personalized interactions. Our interaction scenario fosters the children's creativity and spontaneous behavior. Since Robin has diabetes, during the course of the interaction he may show symptoms of hypo- or hyper-glycemia, in which case the children can check Robin's glucose using the wireless glucometer in order to determine what actions need to be taken to manage the robot's “blood sugar”.
Robin was initially developed as part of the EC-funded ALIZ-E project for use with Italian diabetic children. It was initially tested in Italy interacting with seventeen patients at a hospital and at a summer camp for diabetic children. After the end of the ALIZ-E project, Robin was modified for use with British children, and we are continuing to develop the interaction through a series of studies in order to improve its effectiveness. If you are interested in participating in these studies please contact email@example.com.
We are also grateful for funding that would allow us to continue this work. Please get in touch if you would like to sponsor it.
- BBC News: Robot with diabetes developed in Hertfordshire
- BBC Radio 3: Free Thinking, discussing the Wellcome Collection's Feeling Emotional, with Lola Cañamero
- BBC Three Counties Radio: Drivetime news item (starts 02:54:40)
- Diabetes.co.uk: Robot being developed to help young children with type 1 diabetes
- Ars Technica: Feeling Emotional, a Friday Late Spectacular at the Wellcome Collection
- Factor Tech: The Robot Toddler that Teaches Diabetic Children about their Condition
In addition to academic conferences, Robin has been demonstrated at several events aimed at the general public or audiences in different areas.
- Re-Work Future of Education Workshop, London, June 2016
- University of Hertfordshire Research & Innovation Showcase, June 2016
- Friday Late Spectacular: Feeling Emotional, Wellcome Collection, London, February 2016
- University of Hertfordshire Innovation Showcase, June 2015
- NAOConf, London, September 2014
The Robin Project has been funded by:
- European Union FP7 Programme (as part of the ALIZ-E project),
- University of Hertfordshire “Proof of Concept” awards,
- University of Hertfordshire Diamond Fund Opportunity Award,
- University of Hertfordshire Early Career and Returning to Research Grant.
We are also grateful to all the medical staff, families and individuals who have generously given their time and provided personal insights into life with diabetes.