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Weebots: Driveable Robots For Babies Who Need Them 72

toygeek writes "Babies, as you may have noticed if you own one, like to get into all sorts of mischief, and studies show that exploring and interacting with the world is important for cognitive development. Babies who can't move around as well may not develop at the same rate as babies who can, which is why researchers from Ithaca College in New York are working on a way to fuse babies with robots to give mobility to all babies, even those with conditions that may delay independent mobility, like Down syndrome, spina bifida, or cerebral palsy."
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Weebots: Driveable Robots For Babies Who Need Them

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  • Shell People? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hallow ( 2706 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @01:22PM (#41180125) Homepage

    One step closer to sentient spacecraft? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ship_Who_Sang [wikipedia.org]

  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @01:36PM (#41180281)

    I love robots. I work in robotics. This is not an anti-robot rant. This is a rant about using technolgy inappropriately.

    I know the develpers mean well, but it is clear the developers know nothing about neurology and child development. Kids with mobility problems don't need a machine that removes the need for them to develop. Kids with mobility development issues need 10X to 100X or maybe 1000X the mobility inputs. It needs to be broken down into smaller constituent components and trained intensively. Kids that can't creep, need to crawl. Kids that can't crawl, need to be patterned. Kids with mobility issues need 10X-1000X *MORE* movement inputs, not less movement input. If they can't do it themselves, then pattern them. A kid that can't creep by the normal age needs to spend nearly every waking hour crawling, wriggling, being patterned. When they can creep, they need to creep miles every day until the mid-brain comes together in good, cross-body coordinated creeping. Knee-walking needs to be eliminated so that they are forced to creep. That is the only way to fix the mid-brain injuries and other neurological injuries that these kids have. The brain grows by use. The brain shrinks by dis-use. Got that?

    A robot that removes the need for them to move their legs is almost criminally stupid. It would be much better to build a robot that helps pattern the kids by putting the muscles through the correct natural movements.

    This project is the poster child for why engineers need to gets their noses out of technology once in a while and understand some other part of the world's knowledge base. Anyone who knows anything about neurological development can see this is a well-meaning but naive disaster that is equivalent to injecting poison into these kids' nervous systems.

  • Re:Why ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:09PM (#41184221) Homepage

    Are there still babies being born with Down syndrome and Spina Bifida ? I though tests of those (and others) were performed on all pregnant women, resulting in abortion in those cases.

    There are numerous couples around the world who have tried and tried to have a baby and never succeeded. For them, when finding out that their 20-week-old fetus may have a birth defect wouldn't change their mind about keeping the baby. Also some religious folks don't like these checks, so they see it as fate that they get a baby with disabilities (and they care for and love them the same as a normal baby).

    I'm guess you've never been pregnant - despite what the right-wing says, getting an abortion even if your baby has defects, is very very traumatic and really not desired for many pregenant women. The bond that develops is a tough one to break - even if you know life will be difficult for the baby.

    Also, when my daughter was born, she had to be checked to see if she had spina bifuda - she didn't but we were worried for some time... medical science is not quite there yet on detection and prevention.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.