Robot helps Zagreb scientists communicate with autistic kids

Jan 29, 2014
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Croatian researchers are using a robot to diagnose autism in children, RFE reports.

Education and rehabilitation specialists at the University of Zagreb joined forces with computer scientists in the effort to develop a more systematic way of diagnosing and assessing the disorder in young children.

Robot Rene interacts with a child in this screen shot from a Euronews broadcast. Image from a video by fairfest/YouTube

The French-made robot, called Rene, presents children with simple, repetitive stimuli that are easier to follow than complicated human behaviors, while recording their responses, according to RFE.


Children suffering from autism, a disorder characterized by limited social skills and repetitive behavioral patterns, have so far responded well to the robot’s efforts.


“Filip actually watched and was focused on the robot, which is not his usual behavior. He normally runs around and his focus only lasts a few seconds,” the mother of one child in the study said, Tech Light reports.


Rene was developed by the French company Aldebaran Robotics for their ASK NAO project(Autism Solution for Kids). “It can code a child’s vocalizations, his or her closeness to the parent, how many times the child initiates communication, how much eye contact the child makes, and so on,” Zagreb University’s Maja Cepanec said.


Frontpage image from video by LaricsLab/Youtube

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