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Rethinking Education: Robots become teachers in a school in Bengaluru

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A school in Bengaluru introduced humanoid robots to teach and interact with students just like regular teachers do, giving way to Disruptive Technologies and Artificial Intelligence into classrooms.

“Our robots impart lessons daily in five subjects to about 300 students in Classes 7-9 in four sections by turns. They also interact with them and respond to questions in the subjects,” Indus International School’s Chief Design Officer, Vignesh Rao, told a news agency.

“We have programmed the interactive robots to answer questions students frequently ask on the subjects and related to them. With AI in play, the robots can respond to questions and doubts of our wards after a lesson is taught,” said Rao.

“The AI-enabled robots teach lessons in Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History, and Physics to Classes 7-9. As per the Collaborative Learning Model (CLM), the man-machine team, comprising a teacher, students, and the robot, collaborate in the classroom to deliver a lesson. The teacher collaborates with the robot and brings out the key concepts, relevance, and application of the lesson being taught,” said Rao, who also heads the project.

The three robots each weighing 45 kgs have been designed from light-weight 3D-printed materials with imported smart servo motors by Rao and his 17-member team. These robots mimic human-like gestures while teaching students.

“It has taken our team nearly two years to design and develop these robots with software, hardware, and AI to make them teaching assistants and allowing the human teacher to be more relevant in the classroom so that they can focus on the child and not the subject alone,” Rao added.

The team comprises of teachers in – programmers, graphic designers, content developers, and hardware engineers. They did not involve any manufacturer but had sourced software components and hardware to assemble the robots in-house for Rs 8 Lakhs each.

“The response of students to a robot teaching them is positive and encouraging. They feel the collaboration between a human teacher and a robot enhances learning. It makes the human teacher focus on the child and personalises learning,” Indus Trust Chief Executive Lt. General (retd) Arjun Ray told a news agency.

In an unprecedented move, the school has plans to roll out more such humanoid robots for more classes and subjects. The school is also working on applying for an international patent to protect the intellectual property of the Eagle 2.0 version of the humanoid robots.

“The CLM purpose is to make human teachers more creative in the education sector. Robots will not replace their human counterparts but will work collaboratively with teachers as a tool or assistant to enhance the learning experience for the students in the classroom,” added Lt. General Ray.

The Indus Trust has a wide reach presence across the country with 14 educational institutions which include three top-ranked K-12 international day-cum-boarding schools, eight early learning centres, Indus School of Leadership, Indus Training and Research Institute, and Indus International Community Schools in Bengaluru and Belagavi in Karnataka, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Pune.

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