The device, created by scientists after 15 years of research, is being trialled at a primary school in Tokyo. Named Saya, she can speak different languages, carry out roll calls, set tasks and make facial expressions – including anger – thanks to 18 motors hidden behind her latex face.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Meet your new teacher, Miss Anne Droid
School pupils are to be taught by the world's first robot teacher in one of the most radical uses so far of android technology.
The humanoid was originally developed to replace a variety of workers, including secretaries, in a bid to allow firms to cut costs while still retaining some kind of human interaction. Her creator, science professor Hiroshi Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo, had been working on a robot for 15 years. She is the latest example of robots spreading to every aspect of life in Japan. They already guide traffic, attempt to lure university graduates to sign up to courses and one is even being developed to provide company to Alzheimer's sufferers.
The Japanese government has said that by 2015 it wants a robot in every home and is pouring $35 million (£23 million) into robotic intelligence to make it happen. The push is because of Japan's ageing population – in seven years one in four Japanese will be over 65 – which means the workforce is declining, pushing up wage costs for businesses and making recruitment difficult.
Now surely it can't be only me who finds the idea of a robot teacher getting angry unnerving...