Robot Rep Goes to School

The robot in the classroom, which displays a live picture of Achim, provides what its inventors call “telepresence”: It gives the boy an actual presence in the classroom, recognized by teachers and classmates. It can move from class to class on its four-wheel base and even stop at the lockers for a between-periods chat.

“The robot literally is embraced by students in the classroom as though that is the medically fragile student,” said Andrew Summa, national director of the robot project, which is in use at six other hospitals around the country. Achim’s teacher, Bob Langerfield, said his other students had become used to the robot — and were treating it as if it were Achim — after just a few days. —Robot Rep Goes to School (Wired | AP)

This article combines geekery and empathy, painting a very positive (one-sided) picture of technology. It’s a natural for a reprint in Wired. If I had a child who could benefit from this technology, I wouldn’t spend much time fretting about whether this is the best way to spend educational dollars.

Summa said one student used a robot so fully that it joined the boy’s classmates to sing a song at a school show. He said a child in the audience asked, “What’s that thing up on stage?” to which a friend of the student replied, “That’s no thing. That’s Jimmy.”