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learner” for students,

learner” for students, helping them self-correct their work. Robots can be particularly good at working with autistic children, who “understand the physical world much better than the social world.” The year 2013 saw the launch of the first robot into space. Kiribo was sent to provide companionship for astronauts on the International Space Station, but his creators at the University of Tokyo are interested in droids’ potential to provide company for anyone living alone, especially the elderly. One important cybernetic subspecies is the telepresence robot: a physical stand-in that an individual can control remotely, using the ‘bot’s mobility as well as its (two-way) video and audio feeds. Telemedicine robots enable doctors to “beam in” to remote clinics or to hospitals lacking staff with expertise in a particular area. Teleteachers may improve education by letting “the right people be in more places at once.” These robots also provide a way to mainstream people formerly relegated to the sidelines. Children with compromised immune systems can attend school via proxy robots. Quadriplegics can control telepresence robots (or fly drones!) via eye movements. Finally we are seeing the development of true cyborgs, as humans incorporate ever more sophisticated robotic components onto and into their own bodies. A new generation of prosthetic limbs can be controlled by nerve signals sent by the brain. Technology has already been developed and tested that lets paralyzed patients control robots via their Below: The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot can carry 400 pounds of equipment over rough terrain and obey voice commands. Right: Geeking out at the 2013 Robotics Challenge. Photos courtesy DARPA. 50

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