Robots can learn how to support teachers in class sessions

Robots can take just three hours to successfully learn techniques which can be used to support teachers in a classroom environment, according to new research.

The study, published in Science Robotics, saw a robot being programmed to progressively learn autonomous behaviour from human demonstrations and guidance.

A human teacher controlled the robot, teaching it how to help young pupils in an educational activity, and it was then able to support the children in the same activity autonomously.

The advice it subsequently provided was shown to be consistent with that offered by the teacher.

Researchers say the technique could have a number of benefits to teachers, as they face increasing demands on their time, and could be positive for pupils, with research previously showing that using robots alongside teachers in the classroom can have benefits for their education.

They also believe it holds considerable potential for a number of other sensitive applications of social robots, such as in eHealth and assistive robotics.

The study was coordinated by researchers at the University of Plymouth, which has a long history of developing social robots for a range of education and health settings, working with colleagues at the University of Lincoln and the University of the West of England.

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