April 22, 2009

Green Robot To Spread Cheer In Children’s Hospitals

Belgian scientists have created a plush green robot that is intended to ease the minds of young children in hospitals.

Equipped with a touchscreen on its stomach, Probo will teach hospitalized children how certain operations work.

"The main goal of this project is to have emotional communication with children," said Jelle Saldien, one of the researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels) design team.

Ivan Hermans, president of the Anty Foundation, said he decided to design the robot after seeing the film "I,Robot."

Apart from using facial expressions to show children how operations will make them feel, Probo can respond to touch. When children hug him or pet him, he purrs, but when punched or squeezed, Probo says "ouch."

The robot can also make eye contact with children he meets.

Probo's developers hope to make the robot more widely available for hospitals and other research institutes, according to Reuters.

Image Courtesy Paul Bolsius & Anty Foundation


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