Eight social robots for children with autism


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) represent a spectrum of developmental disorders characterized by impairments in social communication and repetitive and restrictive behaviors. Social deficits can manifest in many ways at varying levels of severity. Many aspects of the disorder may be related to core social deficits, such as poor communication and difficulty with interpersonal relationships.

Though there is no known cure for ASD, several types of interventions have proven to be effective, including behavioral interventions. These interventions are capable of increasing language and communication skills, improving social behaviors, joint attention and behaviors of imitation, decreasing stereotypical behaviors, and accelerating developmental rates relative to IQ.

With the rapid growth in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years, researchers have explored the possible therapeutic benefits of social robots or socially assistive robots (SAR) on children with ASD. Studies show that social robots have a multitude of beneficial outcomes for children with ASD, including increased engagement, development of social skills, the emergence of new social behaviors, and reduced social anxiety.

Robots in autism therapy are designed to take up numerous roles, even within the same therapy session. Through games and engaging activities, the robots can interact with the children to train them with skills, elicit specific, desirable behaviors, and provide encouragement and positive feedback upon the successful completion of a task.

Benefits of social robots in autism therapy for children

  • As opposed to group therapy sessions, one-child-one-robot scenarios allow the robot to direct its undivided attention to a single child, with activities and therapy, personalized for every child in accordance with its preferences, disabilities, and needs.
  • Robots in autism therapy act as behavior eliciting agents, promoting important target behaviors like imitation, eye contact, turn-taking, and self-initiation to accelerate sensory, cognitive, social, emotional, and motor developments.
  • A social robot can serve as a mediator between the child and the therapist by training the child with social skills to extend the learned behaviors to the child’s social peers.
  • Robots can serve as social actors, enacting suitable behaviors in specific social situations to give the child opportunities to learn. The robot accomplishes this through its predictable but progressively changing actions.

This post will look at the top eight social robots built and designed to assist in teaching new skills to children with autism and help them benefit more from educational sessions.

1. QTrobot


  • This adorable robot by LuxAI has two mobile arms and a big head with a large LCD screen that acts as the robot’s face.
  • It can see, hear, and speak thanks to a RealSense 3D camera, a sensitive microphone, and powerful speakers.
  • It can convey a wide range of emotions with clear visual cues, making it easier for someone with autism to recognize.
  • It stands around two feet tall and weighs about 5 kg.
  • Easily to program and personalize.

2. Nao


  • This two-foot-tall robot by Aldebaran Robotics can walk, talk, dance, and engage kids in several activities.
  • It can read facial expressions and maintain appropriate eye contact.
  • Nao can even offer a child a congratulatory high-five.
  • This fully programmable platform can track objects and recognize speech.
  • Speech recognition and dialogue available in 20 languages.
  • It has cameras, microphones, speakers, touch sensors, and LEDs
  • It has 25 degrees of freedom.

3. Milo


  • This advanced social robot uses children’s voices to strengthen their communication skills.
  • He is a two-foot-tall humanoid who can interact with people using vocal and facial expressions.
  • He consistently delivers lessons in a way that learners with ASD respond to.
  • Milo delivers lessons verbally. As he speaks, symbols are displayed on his chest screen.
  • Throughout the lessons, Milo will ask your learner to watch four to five-second video clips on the student tablet.

4. Kaspar


  • This child-sized interactive humanoid act as a social mediator to help children to explore basic emotions.
  • It uses a range of simplified facial and body expressions, gestures, and speech to interact with children and help break social isolation.
  • It can respond autonomously to touch, using sensors on its cheeks, arms, body, hands, and feet.
  • It can engage in several interactive play scenarios to help children learn fundamental social skills such as imitation and turn-taking.
  • It enables cognitive learning by playing games involving personal hygiene or food.
  • Kaspar can hold a comb, toothbrush, or spoon.
  • It can jointly sing a song.

5. Moxie


  • This wide-eyed robot is one-foot tall.
  • It can make eye contact, reads facial expressions, and converses with children.
  • It helps children explore different human experiences, ideas, and life skills, including kindness, friendship, empathy, or respect.
  • It can initiate activities like drawing, reading, or even meditating and teaching kids essential life skills like turn-taking, active listening, emotion regulation, empathy, and problem-solving.

6. Jibo


  • Jibo has high-resolution cameras, built-in speakers, modules for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, LCD touch screen, touch sensors, microphones, and a processor.
  • This robot, with a three-cylinder robot body, has natural rotation, making the body motions smoother and more expressive.
  • It can talk to children in an engaging manner. His speech engine is based on around 14,000 pre-recorded word phrases.

7. Leka


  • Leka is a cute round-shaped device, designed to be unthreatening and more comfortable with making bonds with children.
  • The robot lights up with colorful LEDs and plays music; it contains a screen that shows different facial expressions.
  • It can display photos and videos.
  • It also emits various sounds, designed to be appealing to the children.
  • It can invite them to play by asking them to identify colors or objects.

8. Paro


  • This therapeutic robot, which imitates the voice of a real baby harp seal, has five sensors: tactile, audition, light, temperature, and posture sensors, enabling it to perceive people and its environment.
  • With the light sensor, it can recognize light and dark.
  • With the tactile sensor and posture sensor, it can feel being stroked, beaten, or held.
  • Paro can also recognize voice and words, such as names and greetings.
  • It can also learn to behave in a way that the user prefers and to respond to its new name.