Children-robot interaction: a pilot study in autism therapy

Hideki Kozima, Cocoro Nakagawa, Yuriko Yasuda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


We present here a pilot study of child-robot interactions, in which we discuss developmental origins of human interpersonal communication. For the past few years, we have been observing 2- to 4-year-old children with autism interacting with Keepon, a creature-like robot that is only capable of expressing its attention (directing its gaze) and emotions (pleasure and excitement). While controlled by a remote experimenter, Keepon interacted with the children with its simple appearance and actions. With a sense of curiosity and security, the children spontaneously approached Keepon and engaged in dyadic interaction with it, which then extended to triadic interactions where they exchanged with adult caregivers pleasure and surprise they found in Keepon. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of these unfolding interactions suggests that autistic children possess the motivation to share mental states with others, which is contrary to the commonly held position that this motivation is impaired in autism. We assume Keepon's minimal expressiveness helped the children understand socially meaningful information, which then activated their intact motivation to share interests and feelings with others. We conclude that simple robots like Keepon would facilitate social interaction and its development in autistic children.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Action to Cognition
EditorsC. Hofsten, K. Rosander
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
ISSN (Print)0079-6123


  • autism therapy
  • developmental psychology
  • field practice
  • human-robot interaction
  • interactive robots
  • minimal design
  • social interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Children-robot interaction: a pilot study in autism therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this