How robots can be used to help children with autism and other special needs. Hosted by: Justin Ratliff Introduction: Who Am I? Justin Ratliff I live in Monroe, OH (known for the flea markets and outlet mall) Day Job: I work for UnitedHealth Care as an Sr. IT analyst Side Job: Owner and Operator of J2R Scientific (www.j2rscientific.com) A life long robot builder and enthusiast President of The Robotics Club of Yahoo – www.trcy.org My Interest in Robotics: Robotics for artificial intelligence research, after all who would not want a robot like Johnny Five or an Android like Data from Star Trek. Security (personal/home) Autonomous Fighting Medical Assistant Care ….and Robots to help child, especially those with Autism or other Special Needs. Autism and Special Needs: What is Autism? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Autism and Special Needs: What is Autism? ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art. Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism and Special Needs: What is Other Special Needs? Other Special Needs would be needs of children that overlap with the needs of children with Autism. For example children with Down Syndrome (while it is completely medically different from Autism) can exhibit similar learning, social interaction and physical difficulties as children with Autism. Autism and Special Needs: Why I am passionate about this research? I like solving problems and building robots.. I was looking for new project to throw myself into ….I saw Autism the Musical on HBO It’s a documentary that follows five autistic children as they work together to create and perform a live musical production. After seeing it, I knew robots could help child with autism. Autism and Special Needs: How can a robot help children with autism or other special needs? Robots can provide a safe and comforting way to interact socially by acting as a social mediator Robots allow children to interact how they want Robots facilitate learning Robots remove the human element Robots need help to interact in the world Robots can be customized Robots are fun! Autism and Special Needs: How can a robot help children with autism or other special needs? Research shows that robots are helping to reveal a potential shift in kids’ social and learning psychologies—moving from acts of knowledge transmission toward acts of exploration, collaboration, and creation. Robotics and Autism: History of robots used to help children with Autism … A long time ago, in an island nation far, far away …by accident (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) The UK and Europe Lead with way with projects like The AuRoRA Project: (circa 2003, University of Hertfordshire, UK) Robotics and Autism: History of robots used to help children with Autism iCub - an on going Italian research project aimed at artificial intelligence primarily but some research is directed towards Autism simply because it is a social robot. Robotics and Autism: History of robots used to help children with Autism KASPAR - which stands for Kinesics and Synchronization in Personal Assistant Robotics. Sprang from the AuRoRA Project Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism There are lots of new robot products coming out now to help children with Autism Nearly all robots designed or advertised as being for children with Autism can be used for many other applications such as research, personal use or general education Nearly all robots designed for children with Autism are extremely cost prohibitive! Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism What does cost prohibitive mean? If the robot costs as much as a entry level car its “own ability” is going to be limited to the wealthy or Universities or Medical Research Centers or Hospitals. Most robots cost upwards of $12,000.00 Let’s look at a couple… Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism Hanson Robotics: RoboKind Frubber skin with emotionally expressive face Cost: 12k to 17.5K Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism NAO robot from Aldebaran Robotics, a French based company ONLY available for research institution Cost: 16K Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism Keepon - developed by a Ph.D. student in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University Being used to study how children interact socially A toy, selling for $20-40 It really just dances Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism A couple of other interesting designs: Robotics and Autism: The current state of robots designed for children with Autism And a lower end design: My Robotics Development: The history of my development work to create a robot to help children with Autism Yul – Microcontroller linked to a PC running my first AI robot control software built in .Net My Robotics Development: The history of my development work to create a robot to help children with Autism Reese – Microcontroller based mobile robot. Wireless link. Better developed custom AI software. Refined with help from Pixar Character Developer and a Dr. of Clinical Psychiatry. My Robotics Development: My list of features such a robot should included in its design It should include interactive head and arms It should be mobile It should be wireless It should offer a “puppet” or “avatar” mode The software should include easy to adjust scripting and control interfaces The software should be easy to add additional software modules, functions or content It should be affordable for home use It should not be creepy… My Robotics Development: What makes for a Creepy Robot? Creepiness is obviously subjective from person to person, but overall there is a measurable effect called the “Uncanny Valley”. The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it can cause a response of revulsion among human observers. The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as a function of a robot’s human likeness. My Robotics Development: How artificial intelligence is incorporated in my design …or will be, as I am creating a new software framework Learn about people the robot interacts with Learn patterns of interaction Identify Problems Problem Solve Store information learned Apply information to new problems My Robotics Development: A very short break down of different artificial intelligence methods Neural Networks – Numenta – attempts to replicate biological brains; human or animal Expert Systems – Used in Hospitals and Defense Areas – attempts to store knowledge in IF-THEN relational ways Behavior Based or SubSumption Based – module based behaviors Biological Interfaces My Robotics Development: Behavior Based SubSumption in action: Subsumption architecture is a reactive robot architecture heavily associated with behavior-based robotics. The term was introduced by Prof. Rodney Brooks and colleagues in 1986 at MIT. A subsumption architecture is a way of decomposing complicated intelligent behavior into many "simple" behavior modules My Robotics Development: Behavior Based SubSumption in action: Lets say you wanted to make a robot: Explore, Follow a Light, Avoid Loud Noises and most importantly Avoid Obstacles. You might have end up with a setup like this… My Robotics Development: Neurons vs. Behavior Based designs and why I choose Behavior Based Because you are either a Kirk or Spock when it comes to robot design. Neural Net designs based on neuron research from the 40’s have not yielded what I would call intelligent system. Behavior Based designed let you accomplish more results in less time My Robotics Development: My current production prototype Based on the J2 Robot Chassis Features a wireless camera Articulated arms Manual clamp hands Small, light weight Easily Programmable Estimated price: under $499 My Robotics Development: The guts of the Robot BasicStamp 2 Activity Board MicroController 16 i/o lines (plus 2 serial) BlueTooth serial link to PC Wireless Camera link to PC Laser (red dot) PING Sonar Unit for distance measurement Onboard Text-to-Speech for voice output 7 servo motors and 6 AA batteries My Robotics Development: The software and AI design My software is going through a complete re-write process as my previous AI framework was not sustainable and mostly hodge-podged and blobbed together. It will largely be based on SubSumption architecture With a few pieces of frame work designs that I believe are going to be very unique. My Robotics Development: The software and AI design The basic elements of my framework are Services, Behaviors, and Commands. My Robotics Development: The software and AI design Services is the “Stuff” – Soooo What’s the Stuff? “Stuff” are real things in hardware or software. Hardware like: Motor controls, servo controls, sensors, how to read sensors, lighting controls, battery monitor, sound sensors Software like: voice recognition, text input from keyboard, Mp3 player, Video camera drivers, Internet access, email, twitter, Facebook, and external 3rd party software elements My Robotics Development: The software and AI design Behaviors are the “How To” and where the magic happens. Everything you would want the robot to do is modularized into the smallest possible behaviors. Behaviors are assigned numbers; the lowest numbers have the highest overriding say in a SubSumption system. For example, the “Exploring and Seek Out New Life” is fine behavior, but “Power Low” would ideally trump that behavior. Behaviors also have a way to indicate their own priority level for their desired output My Robotics Development: The software and AI design Commands are the “To Do” There is a command filter that protects the robot or software from crashing or just twitching with new orders every second Commands out the output of actions… For example: if the robot speaks, drives forward, checks power levels, reads a sensor, flashes an LED If the act of storing data or retrieving it would be considered a “Command” as it requires an action Question and Answers: Feel free to contact me anytime with robotics questions. You can find me at: www.J2RScientific.com and my e-mail [email protected] You can also join www.TRCY.org and our group on Yahoo! How can I build a robot? I always recommend to first put some thought into what you really want to achieve. What is your end goal? Let’s say, you want to build Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek.. Humanoids cost about $100K USD A custom android head might cost $25K from Hanson Robotics ST Next Generation Costume $55 on ebay…. ….You don’t have 125K? Hum.... How can I build a robot? Next step is to consider your budget and how much are you willing to spend? To ease into robotics, you should start with a microcontroller, a book, a small set of electronics parts and a few tools For about $200 or less you should be able to purchase everything you need separately or get a complete starter robot kit. How can I build a robot? For microcontrollers there are a lot to pick from but I recommend with a BasicStamp2 from www.Parallax.com or an Arduino board. Parallax is where I direct a lot of beginners too. Their products are extremely well supported and there are tons of user created content on the web including my own. How can I build a robot? While there are lots of free tutorials on the web I do highly recommend to anyone wanting to build their own robot to seriously consider the book, “Robot Builder’s Bonanza, 4th edition”, by Gordon McComb It’s like a bible for robot builders Gordon is a life long robot and technology enthusiast and members of www.TRCY.org Gordon also runs www.budgetrobotics.com How can I build a robot? A magazine I recommend is SERVO magazine, which is a spinoff of Nuts and Volts magazine. Question and Answers: Feel free to contact me anytime with robotics questions. You can find me at: www.J2RScientific.com and my e-mail [email protected] You can also join www.TRCY.org and our group on Yahoo!