Chapter 72 — Social Robotics

Learning how to be a learning companion for children

This video demonstration describes a project whereby we train a policy via learning-by-demonstration for a social robot to serve as a learning companion for young children during free-form educational play. Training data was captured during a Wizard-of-Oz paradigm where the robot played the color-mixing game app with 183 children. Once the model was trained on this data, we did a human-participant study with 85 children to compare the behavior and efficacy of the autonomous robot versus a Wizard-of-Oz-controlled robot. We also compared the children's behavior to just playing the game app without a robot learning companion. We found that the presence of the robot learning companion resulted in deeper exploration of the subject matter of the app (color mixing) and more behaviors targeted to this activity (e.g., there was more random tapping of the app when the robot was not present). The autonomous robot's behavior was not statistically different from the Wizard-of-Oz-controlled robot.
Cynthia Breazeal
MIT Media Lab. This work is funded by an NSF award 1138986