Media caption, Robin is programmed to act like a child with diabetes to help youngsters with the condition A robot is being developed to mimic a diabetic toddler to help children recognise symptoms of the condition.
Robin, type 2 diabetes symptoms child for "Robot Infant", is being developed at the University of Hertfordshire and can speak words including "hungry" and "hug me". Developers said it was aimed at children aged seven to 12 to help youngsters learning to manage diabetes. Diabetes UK said it had "been watching the development of Robin with great interest".
Image caption, Dr Lola Canamero said the robot was designed to appeal to children and can play, dance and ask for hugs Image caption, Developers hope Robin's "diabetes" will teach children how to manage the condition "We try to give [children] a sense of responsibility and let them bond with the robot to understand that their actions can help with his diabetes and reinforce the sort of behaviours we'd like to see in them," said Dr Lewis.
Image caption, At the moment, Robin has a limited vocabulary and set of behaviours so children only spend half an hour at a time with it "We'd like to have them interact with him several times and feel that they've improved. He also doesn't respond to noises.
Robin behaves like a toddler, he wanders around to look at pictures and toys, he plays, dances when he's bored, gets tired and asks for hugs.
These traits enable children to relate to Robin, which the developers say is crucial to them in remembering how to treat their condition.
Dr Canamero said that "children love robots, they really relate to them very quickly", which acts as a confidence booster for their knowledge of diabetes and treating it. Image caption, This laptop screen shows Robin's "blood sugar levels" The next step for Robin, Dr Canamero and Dr Lewis is to conduct public engagement work and to continue to raise funds so that Robin can be "used with children in the UK". The project, which began in Italy under aeuro grant as part of the ALIZ-E programme, has received £11, from the university to continue its work with support from the School of Computer Science.