Evaluation of the Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR) for Social ...

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Abstract

Tele-operated social robots (telerobots) offer an innovative means of allowing children who are medically restricted to their homes (MRH) to return to their local schools and physical communities. Most commercially available telerobots have three foundational features that facilitate child–robot interaction: remote mobility, synchronous two-way vision capabilities, and synchronous two-way audio capabilities. We conducted a comparative analysis between the Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR) and commercially available telerobots, focusing on these foundational features. Children who used these robots and these features on a daily basis to attend school were asked to pilot the HSR in a simulated classroom for learning activities. As the HSR has three additional features that are not available on commercial telerobots: (1) pan-tilt camera, (2) mapping and autonomous navigation, and (3) robot arm and gripper for children to “reach” into remote environments, participants were also asked to evaluate the use of these features for learning experiences. To expand on earlier work on the use of telerobots by remote children, this study provides novel empirical findings on (1) the capabilities of the Toyota HSR for robot-mediated learning similar to commercially available telerobots and (2) the efficacy of novel HSR features (i.e., pan-tilt camera, autonomous navigation, robot arm/hand hardware) for future learning experiences. We found that among our participants, autonomous navigation and arm/gripper hardware were rated as highly valuable for social and learning activities.