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Title: Design of an Assistive Robot for Infant Mobility Interventions
Childhood ambulatory disabilities detract from not only the physical development, but also the social engagement of young children. Commercial mobility aids can help improve the autonomy of children with disabilities, but affordability issues, policy challenges, and uncertainty about training standards limit early use of these devices. In this paper, we build on affordable research-grade mobility aids for young children and consider how to design and evaluate an assistive robot that can support the use of these devices. With young children’s contingency learning abilities in mind, we designed an assistive mobile robot capable of supplying age-appropriate light, sound, and bubble rewards. We conducted a first evaluation of the robot’s ability to support driving practice with N = 5 typically developing infants. The results indicate mixed success of the robot rewards; driving distances uniformly tended to fall over the course of the study, but children did tend to look at the robot. In a second exploratory study involving N = 6 children in free ambulatory play, we see clearer differences in gaze and behavior from the introduction of an assistive robot. Generally, this research can inform others interested in assistive robotic interventions for young children.
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
2021 30th IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN)
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
604 to 611
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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