Editorial Feature

3D Printed Robots - Artificial Intelligence the Next Teaching Assistants?

Are we looking at the first step towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) teaching?

An elementary school teacher in the US has prompted global interest by recently publishing a number of fun, thought provoking and creative videos of a Robotic face constructed from 3D printed parts designed to engage pupils in in the class room.

Brian Patton a teacher at Princeton Friends School in Princeton, New Jersey is using the latest 3D printed technology to create his novel robotic 'teaching assistants' as part of his Expressive System for Robotic Animation (ESRA) technology project.

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for subjects like Science, Math and Technology to be the least popular in the classroom and through the innovative use of robotics, robot design and affordable 3D printing, Patton is actively harnessing technology to help get more pupils engaged, involved and therefore learning.

An example of one of the latest members of the ESRA project is featured in the video below. The 3D Printed ESRA Robot Face:

3D Printed ESRA Robot Face

In the class room Patton has noticed that these quirky little ESRA robots are actually great vehicles to engage students that may have previously been unresponsive. In particular, he has noticed an improvement in the engagement of female'pupils in subjects like computer science and technology that may have traditionally been the preferred choice of male students.

To learn more about the ESRA project and Brian Patton's extra curricular robotic activities - take a look at his website 


The ESRA project is yet another success story of the growing research and development into

the application of robotics for learning, rehabilitation and even emotional and tactile systems to help those with learning difficulties or special needs.

For example, take a look at some of the cool videos below:

Robots and Autism

An intriguing introduction to the story of the development of robotic assisted therapy for patients diagnosed with Autism.

A Story of Robots and Autism

Teaching Robots to Move Like Humans

The next step for the development of robotic applications in teaching environments is to continue to make robots more 'human like'. Researchers at Georgia Tech have found that by making robots look, move, sound and act like humans, people find it much easier to recognize, understand, mimic and therefore learn from a robot.

Andrea Thomaz, assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech's College of Computing and Ph.D. student Michael Gielniak discuss their latest study into the movement of robots and how this affects the way people react to them.

Andrea Thomaz: Teaching Robots to Move Like Humans

With the incredible advances in robotic technology really beginning to gather pace in the domestic market, I wonder how long it will be until we have robots teaching us how to play sports, cook and maybe even drive?


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