Chung Hyuk Park is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering that has morphed mechanical, electrical and computer engineering into his career as well. The end result? A soccer playing robot that would be able to interact with autistic children. The robot has been designed to interact with children and communicate with them as well. Through collaboration with other engineers, they combined their skills and built the robot.
Park said he wanted to build something that would assist children with autism in learning new things, making friends and "pursuing happiness and take meaningful steps into their lives."
"Robotics may not be the cure, but it can help them to practice their social skills, to engage in emotional and social activities and to help them gain more confidence in their human interactions."
Some of the robots (shown in the video below) dance, some of them play soccer and some of them speak as well. The robots can be controlled through iPhones and according to GWHatchet can also show emotion through sending emoticons to the iPhone's screen.
"We tried to combine musical interaction and robot interaction for children with autism to better promote engagement and social interaction. They [the children with autism] might have some specific behaviors, and mimic them in a friendly way, then the robot can develop a better rapport with the children. And they can be friends and be more effective in engaging with them."
The National Institute of Health assisted Park with the project, granting him $690,000 for three years of research in the robotics industry. He is working to make the robots affordable enough for parents to buy with children who have autism, specifically.
Please note: The video below is out of sync towards the end of the video, but check it out, it's quite something: