William Eichler 23 December 2019

Council invests in 50 robots to aid distance learning

Children in Somerset who miss school due to illness will soon be able to continue their lessons thanks to the use of robots.

Somerset County Council has invested in 50 AV1 robots to support children who can’t be in school because they are sick or overcoming physical or mental health challenges.

The robots take the place of the child in the classroom, letting them see, hear and contribute to lessons while they are out of school at home or in a hospital bed.

The child watches a livestream of their lessons on a tablet or phone and are able to ask questions, hear answers and move the robot’s head to look around the room.

The robots are carried from lesson to lesson by a ‘buddy’ classmate.

The 50 robots come at a cost of £145,000 and schools pay a rental fee that covers running costs with any profit being reinvested in more of the robots.

‘It’s great to be at the cutting edge and this investment certainly puts us there,’ said Cllr Faye Purbrick, cabinet member for schools and transformation.

‘No other local authority has committed to this technology in the way we have, and that reflects our desire to embrace technology where the evidence shows it can improve lives.

‘The response we have had already shows that across education there is an understanding that technology like this can be an important part of the support for children in our schools.’

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