This Robot Takes Care of Your Children

Ruben Baart
October 26th 2016

As a parent you probably don’t always have time to entertain your children. One solution to the problem would be to hire a nanny. Another is iPal, the child-sized babysitter robot. With its height of 90 centimeters, big eyes and a tablet attached to its chest, this robot nanny is designed to take adult responsibilities.

The robotic babysitter was developed by Avatar Mind and was introduced at this year’s RoboBusiness. According to its founder Jiping Wang, iPal is able to keep three-to-eight-year-old kids entertained for “a couple of hours” without adult supervision. “It is perfect for the time when children arrive home from school a few hours before their parents get off work” he said. iPal is able to communicate using natural language and can answer questions like “Why is the sun hot?”.

The mechanic babysitter raises concerns regarding the consequences of using robots to raise our children, simultaneously highlighting the debate about the automation of human jobs. Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics and AI at the University of Sheffield, has been questioning robotic nannies since 2008. According to Sharkey, “Robots are a great educational tool for children. It inspires them to learn about science and engineering […] But there are significant dangers in having robots mind our children. They do not have the sensitivity or understanding needed for childcare”. Robot employment to childcare will lead to “a number of severe attachment disorders that could reap havoc in our society”.

The humanoid is similar to Pepper, which was designed as a companion for lonely people. “iPal is not a cold, unfeeling machine, but a great companion for your child” Avatar Mind claimed. “iPal's emotion management system senses and responds to happiness, depression and loneliness. iPal is happy when your child is happy, and encourages your child when he is sad”.

iPal is already in production in China and the company hopes to expand to the US next year. During the test period in some Chinese homes, Wang said: “80% love it, 15% have no reaction, 5% are scared”. Would you let a robot look after your child?

This robot nanny is designed to take on adult responsibilities.

Sources: The Guardian, RT. Images: Mashable

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KatherineJ
Posted 13/11/2017 – 17:27

Im not sure this is such a great idea. I know that some people have to go to work and cant afford nannies but robots should never replace people when it comes to taking care of people, be it children at home, in school or in hospital.

Nicole
Posted 06/11/2017 – 04:52

I think this is a great idea. Not a replacement for a human nanny but at least a safe and trusted machine to tend our kids. I am a mother of three and they are really young. I hired several nannies and all of them have different reasons why I fired them. I and my husband are working. We need to work because of financial instability. My first nanny was young and I had 1 child before. She is quite good at first week, after receiving her pay she went for a day off and never returned. My second nanny is a cousin of my husband. I definitely know she will take care of my children since she's a family. I came back home she wasn't home and my child is not there too. I look around my village and found them with some guys drinking alcohol and my child with them eating food they have and when they got back home my child had diarrhea and needs to be sent to the hospital. My third nanny, she always asks for an advance and when the time she already had 4 months advance, I stopped giving her more advanced because I am afraid she won't stay long because she isn't receiving any salary due to her advances. She said she will go home due to emergencies and guess what? She never came back leaving her things. The next day her husband came and took her things. Every time a nanny leaves, mine or my husband's job jeopardize. One of us has to leave our job so we can take care of our kids. Causing us a lot of money and ended up broke. Nanny nowadays doesn't like to work hard, they only like to earn money but never really have the passion to work in their field. With a robot nanny, it's a great idea for every working parent like us. We know for sure that our children are safe at home. Humans are more needed but with the way people acts now, robots are becoming more needed.

Should men be able to give birth to children?


Lisa Mandemaker: Using an artificial womb could lead to more equality between sexes, but also between different family layouts. If men would be able to give birth to children, it would maybe be easier for male same-sex couples to have a child together.

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