Interdisciplinary Team Presents at UROP: Supporting the Education of Homebound Children Through Cognitive Robotics
An innovative interdisciplinary team from Engineering, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, and Psychology presented their collaborative research at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Symposium on May 18. The team had been mentored by School of Education Alumna Veronica Ahumada Newhart, currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science; Jeff Krichmar, Professor of Cognitive Science; Graduate Student Research Tiffany Hwu (Cognitive Science); and PhD Candidate Hirak Kashyap (Computer Science). The team's poster has been selected for display in Aldrich Hall.
Event: Undergraduate Research Symposium
Date: May 18, 2019
Location: UCI Student Center
Presenters: Mikayla Minton (Engineering), Lara Mirzakhanian (Cog Sci), Steven Seader (Computer Science), Giselle Tian (Psychology)
Mentors: Jeff Krichmar, Veronica Ahumada Newhart, Tiffany Hwu, Hirak Kashyap
Title: Supporting the Education of Homebound Children Through Cognitive Robotics
Many children, with various medical conditions, including immune deficiencies and heart conditions, are chronically homebound from school. Telepresence robotics allow children to attend school through a robot and stay connected with their peers. The robots that are currently available to such children lack autonomy, mobility, and manipulation. Our team believes these functions are critical for the success of homebound children in the classroom. Therefore, we designed a child-friendly user interface for our Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR) to pilot it’s use in children’s classrooms. The HSR can pan and tilt its head unit, autonomously navigate to locations in the classroom, and can manipulate objects with its arm and grasper. Our team recruited five subjects who have experience using telepresence robots in the classroom to evaluate the utility of these HSR features. These students remotely controlled the HSR from their home and participated in a short Spanish lesson. Survey feedback from the participants suggests that these features had a positive impact on their experience in comparison to their prior telepresence robot use. In addition, we have added the ability for the HSR to autonomously navigate to and use an elevator; functionality which was requested by school officials and students. Accompanying these findings, the team also created the first prototype of an inexpensive robot alternative fabricated from basic parts, kits, and 3D printing. Going forward, these added alternatives and functions might further improve the telepresence robot experience in school environments and make them more affordable for families and school districts.
Giselle Tian (Psychology), Mikayla Minton (Engineering), Lara Mirzakhanian (Cognitive Science), Steven Seader (Computer Science)