Fuzzy and green with purple bows on her head, Charlie may look like a creature you’d find palling around with the Muppets, but she’s actually a robot specially designed by a University of South Carolina doctoral student to help children with autism. Short for Child Centered Adaptive Robot for Learning Environments, Charlie’s programming includes a number of interactive games that help autistic children improve their communication skills, especially imitation and turn-taking. For example, a camera placed in Charlie’s nose will detect if a child has raised his or her arm and will follow by raising its arm. Charlie also has a high-precision infrared camera which can monitor a child’s temperature and breathing rate. If it detects that a child is getting agitated, for example, Charlie will sit passively to help the child calm down.
Here’s a look at Charlie, courtesy of WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina:
You might also want to read about Auti, a robotic training toy for autistic children that we wrote about last year.
More from University of South Carolina: Using robots to help children with autism