For a period of 3 weeks in June 2021, we embedded a social robot (Softbank Pepper) in a Special Educational Needs (SEN) school for autistic children. The robot’s behaviours and integration into the school were co-designed with the children and teachers, with a focus on improving the well-being of the pupils. Using a mix-method approach, we studied the robot’s adoption over the course of the study, and the impact of the robot’s presence on the children well-being and the school ecosystem. We found that the robot successfully integrated within the school; it fostered and maintained a steady level of interactions (330 interactions, 16h of continuous use over 3weeks) with a small yet meaningful group of children with a positive impact on their well-being; and it led to a nuanced conversation with the students and school staff about the role and impact of such a social technology in a SEN school.
Daly, J., Lemaignan, S., Newbutt, N., & Rice, L. (in press). “It’s important to think of Pepper as a teaching aid or resource external to the classroom”: A social robot in a school for autistic children. International Journal of Social Robotics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-022-00928-4