Robot assistants help absent pupils attend school

Education officials invest in robots to ensure children with disabilities or illness do not miss out on education

It may seem like science fiction, but pupils with disabilities, or long-term or chronic illnesses in Marseille will soon be able to attend school via robot, thanks to an initiative from the conseil département.

Authorities have invested €58,800 to subsidise the purchase of Ubbo 'telepresence' robots in 14 collèges in the city.

The robots allow pupils who may be in hospital or at home recovering from long-term illness or those who cannot attend school due to disabilities to take part in classes and interact in real time with classmates and teachers via the robots. The robot, which can even travel from class to class, is controlled by the absent pupil remotely.

It is hoped that, as well as allowing pupils to attend classes, the robots will help pupils maintain a social bond with their friends at school. 

Collège Chape, in the city's 4th arrondissement, is one of the establishment waiting to receive its Ubbo robot, which has been designed and built by Bouches-du-Rhône's Axyn Robotique. Principal Clémentine Dahl told "We don't have enough money to provide home schooling.

"This robot allows students not to fall behind by taking the same lessons at the same pace as their classmates."

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