The £2.5 million EMOTE (Embodied Perceptive Tutors for Empathy-based Learning) project will see the robotic teachers programmed with social skills, allowing it to read and react to a child’s moods and emotions, reported the Birmingham Mail.
The leaders of the initiative have moved to allay fears they could replace human teachers in the classroom by saying they are designed to work with them.
Dr Ginevra Castellano, from the university’s School of Electronic, Electronic and Computer Engineering, is leading EMOTE and said: “In the last few years there has been a growing interest in social robotics, which aims to build robots that can engage with human users in a socially acceptable way.
“Robots are now starting to be used as ‘partners’ who collaborate with humans. We are particularly interested in developing robots that can help to support learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects, with a particular focus on geography.”
Once created, children will be able to communicate with the robot using a touchscreen.
The next 12 months of the project will see the design perfected before it is taken on a trial run in real-life geography lessons.