A Japanese City is Installing Robots in Classrooms so Kids Who are Worried About Attending School can Tune in Remotely

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This article was written by Beatrice Nolan on September 7, 2023 and published by Business Insider. 


Students in class with a robot on a desk projecting a kid's face

The robots (not pictured) are around a meter high and self-propelling, according to a report.  

Kumamoto, a city in Southwest Japan, plans to install robots in some of its classrooms to help home-based pupils feel more included and less anxious.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that the initiative was due to involve two meter-high robots, which would be fitted with microphones and a camera to allow for two-way communication. This would allow students to learn from home while still contributing to class discussions.

The futuristic machines are self-propelling, meaning they can move freely around the schools and even participate in school events, per the report.

Japan has been experiencing a rise in the number of truant schoolchildren, a trend potentially accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the country’s truancy rates soared to record levels, The Asahi Shimbun outlet reported, citing an education ministry survey.

“Aside from letting them view the classes, the robots allow students to move freely in space and communicate with others at their own will,” an education board official told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. “Hopefully, this can help lower the mental hurdles for truant students.”

Some schools in the US have also introduced robots on school campuses.

According to a July report in The Wall Street Journal, a school district in New Mexico is testing a 400-pound robot to be used for campus security. The robot can also confront intruders, although it will not be armed, the Journal reported.

Other schools around the world have been reckoning with the fallout from the rise of new AI tech. The use of AI-powered tools in education has been the subject of debate and the sector has had difficulty adapting to the technology.

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