Eastern Japanese city launches avatar robot test for educational purposes

The robot avatar presented by the Yaita Municipal Government is seen at the government office in Tochigi Prefecture on October 25, 2021. (Mainichi / Seiichi Yuasa)

YAITA, Tochigi – The municipal government in this eastern Japanese city has started experiments to verify the effectiveness of an avatar robot, which can be remotely controlled, for educational purposes.

Officials in the city of Yaita in Tochigi Prefecture hope the robot can be used in tasks such as virtual field trips, which have been difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic, and to help children who do not. cannot physically attend school due to illness or injury to participate virtually in class.

The self-propelled robot is approximately 1.5 meters tall and has a tablet with a camera and microphone on top. It can be controlled remotely through a computer or by other means. Because the students can grasp the situation around them with the robot and have conversations through it like a video phone, they can feel as if they are present.

The municipal government has decided to introduce the robot to use the high-speed network environment in place in all primary and secondary schools in the city and to push their educational activities “one step further”. The government will loan the robot in sequence to schools wishing to use it until the end of March 2022, allowing them to integrate it with, among other things, virtual excursions and distance courses taught by external instructors. .

The robot has a total project cost of 993,000 yen (approximately $ 8,800), two-thirds of which is covered by the Tochigi Prefectural Government grant to support the promotion of the use of future technologies.

Yaita Mayor Junichiro Saito commented: “We hope to explore a future for education that goes beyond online courses.

(Japanese original from Seiichi Yuasa, local Otawara office)


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