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article imageIntroducing a Robot Teacher Named Saya

By M Dee Dubroff     May 10, 2009 in Technology
Although she cannot eat the apples her students may leave as loving tokens on her desk, Saya, the world's first robot teacher, has proved a hit with pupils on her first day at a Japanese primary school. Read more about the newest adventure in robotics.
The world’s first robotic teacher has been 15 years in the making. According to her creator, Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi, of Tokyo's University of Science:
“The aim is to develop something that is useful to society and humans in daily life. The robot teacher is the perfect application for a robot. The children were not fazed by Saya at all. They don't see her as a humanoid but human. They were very happy and surprised when she was able to call their names. They treated her like a real teacher.”
Saya acts like a normal teacher. According to news sources, the first thing she did was call the name of each child in the class at Kudan Primary School, adjacent to Tokyo University. The students accepted her; one called her pretty, another a bit “scary” and still another said that he “couldn’t believe he was being taught by a robot”. All in all, the day went well.
Saya’s creator states that the robot’s skull is covered with a fine latex cast from a female university student. Her facial expressions are made possible by a series of 18 motors that function as human muscles. They permit her to smile, frown, be surprised, angry and sad. She can talk, move her head and answer questions. Her language consists of approximately 300 phrases and a vocabulary of some 700 words.
Saya is still experimental and it is planned that she and her kin will be utilized in several classrooms where they will be operated from a control centre. Each teacher robot costs up to £25,000 ($50,000 US smackeroos) and despite the heavy price tag, Saya’s creator feels that buyers will make their money back in a couple of years. (After all, these robots, don’t need vacation time, pension plans and labor unions).
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