AAAI Fall Symposium "Socially Intelligent Agents - The Human in the Loop", 3-5 November 2000, Sea Crest Resort, North Falmouth, MA, USA.


Notes from the Working Group:


Socially Intelligent Robotic Toys for Children:

Applications in Entertainment and Therapy


Aude Billard ( and Kerstin Dautenhahn (



A. Billard, W. Burleson, K. Dautenhahn, M. Li, A. Lockerd, F. Michaud



This working group discussed our perception of the use of robots and how this has evolved recently towards a more lovable, cute and

friendly one with the design of robots for entertaining and teaching children. We addressed the two following questions:

  1. What are the advantages of a robot over other toys?


2: What is the role of toys in relation to adult life?

- Educational tool: the game with the robot contains implicit and explicit elements of teaching. The robot engages in a friendly, gamely fashion with the child. As such, it serves as a friend, a trustable companion, a peer, and a teacher.

- Awareness of robots' capabilities: By playing with and programming the robot, the child becomes aware of the capabilities, limitations and weaknesses of robots. It creates expectations on the technological capabilities, such as the ability to follow a line, detect light, etc. This provide the child with some knowledge on how to interact with a robot and expectations on the possible answers from the robot. This could be useful to better interact with machines (if robots are going to be part of our future daily life). In this spirit, it would be interesting to have the robot explicitly teaching the user about its technological properties and limitations: it could advertise explicitly its disfunctioning or its needs and explain how the user could fix those.

- Bidirectionality of interaction and adaptability of the robot: An important feature of the robot would be its ability to adapt to its user's need and preferences. This could also be used to increase the complexity of the interaction, e.g. by the robot commenting on the user's emotional state and changing its attitude as an effect of this. Thus, the user participates in the development of the robot and the robot participates in the user's learning process. This would provide with a long lasting relationship, which would allow to survive technological advances.