Accessible Robots for Improving Social Skills of Individuals with Autism

Matthew F. Tennyson 1 , Deitra A. Kuester 2 , John Casteel 1  and Christos Nikolopoulos 3
  • 1 Department of Computer Science and Information Systems Murray State University, Murray, KY, USA
  • 2 Teacher Education, Bradley University, Peoria, IL, USA
  • 3 Departments of Computer Science & Information Systems Bradley University, Peoria, IL, USA


This paper reports on an ongoing project between members of the computer science and special education departments of Bradley University and Murray State University, detailing the robotic platforms developed and investigated as a potential tool to improve social interactions among individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Development of a fourth generation robotic agent is described, which uses economically available robotic platforms (Lego NXT) as Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR), combined with direct instruction pedagogy and social scripts to support an alternative educational approach to teaching social behavior. Specifically, in this fourth generation, changes to the physical design of the robots were made to improve the maintainability, reliability, maneuverability, and aesthetics of the robots. The software architecture was designed for modularity, configurability, and reusability of the software.

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