Robotic Teaching Assistant project team prepares for next milestone

Published:07 June 2016

TOP: A child interacting with a Nao robot. BELOW: Dr Michael Cowling and the Nao robot he is working with at CQUni Brisbane.

In schools of the future, it's possible that kids used to calling out 'sir' or 'miss' might have to come up with a new way of attracting attention.

At least, that’s the future envisioned by Dr Michael Cowling at CQUniversity, who foresees that tomorrow's classroom will contain intelligent robotic teaching assistants that work together with the students during a class.

The Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology has recently secured internal funding to start developing a cloud infrastructure for the next round of commercially available educational robots, such as the Nao robot from French company Aldebaran, with a view of advancing the idea of a Robotic Teaching Assistant.

"We are leveraging off the Queensland Government push for robotics in the classroom, and the rise of commercial robots like Nao that make the developments easily accessible to non-research institutions," Dr Cowling says.

Nao is an autonomous, programmable humanoid robot developed by Aldebaran for educational use. It's already being used in some classrooms to teach students programming and robotics, but Dr Cowling sees a more general use for the robot in support of all classroom pedagogy.

"At this stage we’ve just got some demo code going and have done some exploratory work, but we are seeking further funding to spend some more time on it. We are delighted to be getting some good support from industry, including our industry partner ACME Robotics, who have provided us with the expertise of their team and also a Nao robot to do our testing on,” says Dr Cowling.

"Our next milestone will probably be in a couple of months when we have a polished demo we can start showing to investors, with our ultimate goal being the effective integration of robotics into all parts of the curriculum, not just programming classes."


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