Children with autism are often impaired in their ability to imitate other persons. This has led Swiss researchers at the EPFL in Lausanne to develop a small robot doll called «Robota». The mini humanoid robot can interact with the child, imitating speech and body movements.
Robota has been under development for ten years now, and new prototypes are yet to come. The job obviously is not very easy. New results have been published recently. These results are now being used to further improve the new prototypes. It seems that the robot doll is a promising way to overcome the autistic fear of interaction with a human being. But it is still a long way for Robota to grow market-ready. - (Image by EPFL)
Kristina Chew, in her excellent autism blog, has brought up a reverse angle, that is, robots have been used as a metaphor for autism. But, as she points out, it is a weak metaphor because it «is a creation of us non-autistic persons' attempts to understand autism».
Feedback: This story has been noticed by Autismpress and Dave Vinci Blog.