NEC held a PaPeRo workshop at Osaka’s “Robot Showroom” (August 4th ~ 9th), where a select group of kids got hands-on experience with the robot and its user-friendly programming software developed with the MIT Media Lab. Color-coded “scratch cards” were on hand with illustrations of sample programs (written on the back of each card) that were used to program short skits where PaPeRo sang a song, or performed dance-like motions. The kids were divided into teams and had only 20 minutes to come up with a story and program it into the robot before presenting it to everyone.
From memos left by the kids, it appears the workshop was a success. PaPeRo is envisioned (at least in part) as a childcare robot, so it makes sense that a focus group should be made up of kids. The workshop will help NEC to refine PaPeRo, while also giving kids a chance to have fun while learning about robotics and programming. One wonders when exactly NEC will be ready to make good on their years of research – PaPeRo has been in development for about a decade, but has yet to be commercialized.
Also making an appearance at the Robot Showroom: the 2 meter tall Hajime Robot #33, which made its debut at RoboCup earlier this year; Infanoid, a therapeutic robot for children with autism; the Pleo; Vstone’s line-chasing robot kits; and the Robo Catcher, which puts a new spin on the old UFO Catcher machines.
[source: Impress Robot Watch (JP)]