Bar-le-Duc Edition | Cozmo, a small interactive robot close to autistic students

The experience is unique in Lorraine and concerns children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) enrolled in the teaching unit in autism (UEMA) of the Edmond-Laguerre school in Bar-le-Duc. , and in the unit of teaching in elementary autism (UEEA) of the primary school of Dieue-sur-Meuse, two structures carried by the Adapei of the Meuse. Called "Rob-Autism", it is part of a project led by the Lorraine Laboratory of Psychology and Neuroscience (2LPN) of the University of Lorraine, the Academic Delegation to Digital Education (DANE) of the Rectorate Nancy-Metz , the National Institute for Digital Sciences (Inria Grand Est) and the Research Center for Child Development at Kanasawa University, Japan.

The common denominator of this pioneering study, planned for one year, is a teaching aid called Cozmo. Non-humanoid form to prevent the child from assimilating to a person with a risk of relational blockage, the little robot was presented this Wednesday to parents of nine students enrolled on both sites. "We wondered to what extent a toy could help develop communication skills with young children," said Jerome Dinet, psychologist and director of 2LPN.

An artificial intelligence

Equipped with artificial intelligence, Cozmo moves on a flat surface at will. He speaks, sings, scans faces by identifying them, prepares games, stacks cubes and expresses attitudes. "He behaves like an animal, he asks for interactions, he is given emotions," observes Jerome Dinet.

Cozmo is piloting from a dedicated application on digital tablet. A double gyroscope makes it possible to direct it, to make it nod its head, to visualize on the screen what its two blue eyes perceive. "We share things with the child, we are in co-activity", continues the director.

The protocol provides an assessment of the level of communication of children via psychometric tools, participation in activities involving the robot and a situation point every two months. "This project is a first because it includes children, parents and educational teams. It guarantees the complete anonymity of the data collected ", insists Jérôme Dinet, who will benefit from the support of three psychology master students.

"Cozmo arouses interest in children"

Specialized teacher at UEMA, Flamine Roussé tested Cozmo during the first semester of 2019. "We work with children in sequences from 5 to 15 minutes on the language, the understanding of instructions, the reaction action report. My first observation is that Cozmo is attracting interest from them "

"The goal is to change the way we look at children with autism by working on the perception of disability. If the results are positive, it will be a matter of building on the levels, to extend the experience to other populations. If we do not see any improvement, we will at least have tried, this is the principle of research, "concludes Jerome Dinet.

Nicolas GALMICHE

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