Robots: Assistive technologies for play, learning and cognitive development

Al Cook, Pedro Encarnação, Kim Adams
2010 Technology and Disability  
Robots have been widely used in rehabilitation. Among the various applications, robots have been developed to assist children with motor disabilities in play and academic activities. Several studies have shown the efficacy of these robotic tools, not only for allowing children to actively participate in the activities, with direct impact on the development of their cognitive, social, and linguistic skills, but also as a means to assess children's understanding of cognitive concepts, when
more » ... d tests cannot be used due to physical or language limitations. In this paper the use of robots for assistive play is reviewed from the perspectives of rehabilitation engineering and robot design, aiming at defining a set of desirable characteristics for such robots. Commercially available robots are then surveyed in comparison to the defined characteristics to evaluate to what extent they can be used as assistive robots for play, learning and cognitive development. This paper begins with a brief overview of robotic systems, and then describes a series of applications to rehabilitation, focusing particularly on robots to reveal cognitive skills for children with disabilities. The results of these and other studies demonstrate the positive impact of the use of robotic systems by children who have disabilities and justify consideration of the design requirements for a robot specifically for this population. Combined with our previous experience [12, 13, 59] in evaluating and developing cognitive skills in children with disabilities through the use of robots, this material forms the basis for a desired set of robot characteristics for play and education applications. In the final section of the paper a review of commercially available robots based on that set of characteristics is discussed. Robotic systems A robot is defined as "An automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose, manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial
doi:10.3233/tad-2010-0297 fatcat:232vawhfxzgmdl2sy2xvfks5w4