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March 11, 2009

Saya the multilingual robot teaches at elementary school

Saya.jpg

Saya, the robot invented by Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi of the Tokyo University of Science, has had a successful trial as an elementary school teacher in Tokyo. She was able to set tasks for students, call the roll and get angry when the students were badly behaved.

Saya, who was originally developed as a receptionist for companies that want to cut costs, has been hitting the headlines around the world especially since it was reported that she would be tried out as a teacher. Newspapers and blogs have been full of anxious reports on whether robots can or should replace people.

Japan has a target of putting a robot in everybody's home by 2015. Robots are currently being used as traffic wardens and as companions for those with Alzheimer's disease and now they are being tried out as teachers. With English going into elementary schools the trial of a multilingual robot could indicate which way the wind is blowing!

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