Why use Humanoid Robots in the Education & Research Sector?

SoftBank Robotics Europe focuses particularly on the education market by wanting to offer an innovative learning tool. Pepper and NAO easily create an empathetic link with students & researchers by their eye-catching appearances, moderate sizes and humanoid behaviours. Proven by various studies and researches, main characteristics of our humanoid robots meet perfectly the instructional goals in education. Our robots are enabling new ways for pedagogy and classrooms. 

During the session Exploring Human-Robot Interaction and Robot Roles in Education and Training at OEB on Thursday November 28, Professor Patrick Heinsch will explain the current capabilities of humanoid robots, inform about the central research and development issues using the findings of project H.E.A.R.T. (Humanoid Emotional Assistant Robots in Teaching). He will also provide ideas for the use of humanoid robots as assistants in education as well as demonstrates a live demo of how to use the robot in-class.

Project H.E.A.R.T. is a qualitative investigating project initiated by the University of Marburg in Germany. It aims at analysing the use of “Robots in Everyday Life” with the focus on universities in order to formulate research questions and hypotheses for further empirical studies regarding the fast growing spread of humanoid robots.

Within the scope of the project, different areas and tasks within the university are to be identified and investigated in which a coexistence of humans and humanoid robots might be beneficial, because a concrete added value for man and machine can be expected. These include: 

  • Support for teachers and students, advice on routine questions and problems, but also on issues that cannot be solved with simple FAQ systems (for example promoting teaching and learning processes)
  • Information services for visitors and users of university facilities
  • Advertising the university internally and externally

The initial assumption here is that humanoid robots, in contrast to simple FAQ systems, have three special strengths that they can contribute productively in their interaction with humans:

  • The ability to have embodied multi-modal dialogue with people in their familiar environment by combining language, eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, posture and movement
  • The ability to deal intelligently with human and one’s own emotions
  • The ability to build relationships with people using the first two skills

Typical use cases in Education

Our robots are the perfect STEAM education teaching assistance platform. Deploy easily customised teaching activities on either a one-to-one basis or in small groups, to challenge students & promote positive behaviour, and finally to follow and monitor their progress. They provide edutainment by being the attractive channel for entertaining and educational communication toward students. Especially in inspiring and accompanying kids for physical and intellectual exercises and supporting the social & emotional skills development. They generate insights by conducting survey research to understand student behaviours, provide detailed and regular feedback to teachers on their advancement. Pepper and NAO execute it with flexibility and collect complex data to generate more valuable student insights. Pepper and NAO are excellent institution ambassadors by being reliable and cost-effective channels in presenting institution and academic activities, raising awareness and running recruitment campaigns.

How do humanoid robots make a difference?

Our robots are easy to use, develop, deploy and upgrade. They are fully programmable, allowing integration & implementation of cloud services and APIs. They motivate to learn by attracting students’ attention, draw curiosity and stimulate interests to study & grow. Pepper and NAO are multi-lingual and can speak up to 21 languages and provide translation via Cloud services: allowing you to develop language skills of students. By customising interactions via their sensors Pepper and NAO can categorise and/or identify the person they are interacting with and adapt their behaviour to his/her profile. By being connected our robots can communicate on-the-fly, searching the latest teaching materials at a centralised level, generate, update and adapt their behaviour and content to fit local conditions and audience. Taking advantage of the embedded and cloud-based cognitive computing services, our robots can have continuously evolving behaviours to interact with students based on their real time analysis results. Capitalising on their humanoid shape, our robots use their entertaining interactions to powerfully deliver educational information and guidelines, as well to motivate students for physical and intellectual trainings. Being perceived as ‘friendly’ and ‘no judgement’, our robots are easily accepted by students, feeling more confident to answer openly to questions. Collected information is enriched by the sensors, generating precious added-value insights.


Leader in humanoid robotics, SoftBank Robotics Europe is headquartered in Paris and regroups 400 employees. Our three humanoid robots, NAO, Pepper and Romeo are used today in more than 70 countries worldwide, in various fields, such as research, education, retail, healthcare, tourism, hospitality or entertainment.

Be sure to visit the session Exploring Human-Robot Interaction and Robot Roles in Education and Training on Thursday, Nov 28 at 16:30  – 17:30 in room: Tiergarten

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