Xinjiang kindergarten employs robot teacher
Global Times


Teacher robot Xiaopang with children and human teachers in Aidi kindergarten in Urumqi, Xinjing Autonomous Region. (Photo: Evolver company)

Imagine a robot moving around in a kindergarten, helping the children in a number of ways, including teaching, playing and lulling them to take a nap.  

Aidi kindergarten in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur  Autonomous Region has employed a 1-meter-tall robot that integrates man-machine communication, motion sensing and image projection to act as a teaching assistant in pre-primary education.

The robot, called Xiaopang, was developed by Evolver, a Beijing-based company specialized in smart robots. 

It is an all-round teaching robot archiving five kinds of curricula including art, emotional quotient (EQ) and scientific experiments, which can help children learn while human teachers supervise the class and interact with every student, according to information provided by Evolver to the Global Times on Tuesday.

It aims to relieve the teacher from the pressure of repetitive teaching preparation work, instead giving human teachers more time to pay attention to every child's mood and health, Ma Yanli, director of the operation center of the company's Xinjiang branch, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Xiaopang is equipped with a projector in its back and a retractable plate in its chest aiming to serve teas and food, and it has two speakers on its tummy.

Xiaopang not only acts as a teacher but also is a partner to play with students and provide services to human teachers and students.

"Kids, good morning! Welcome to Aidi kindergarten… Let's spend a happy day together!" Xiaopang said as it welcomes students at the kindergarten gate, shows a video provided by Ma.  

Also, it can play games with children, and play music to coax them to take a break at midday, which makes it popular among children, according to Ma.

The project has been welcomed by parents.

"Children don't make trouble and noise in class any more… as Xiaopang attracts their attention and gives good classes in a simple way," an emcee at a parent communication meeting said in another video provided by Ma to the Global Times.

Ma said the robot has been tested in Xinjiang for nearly two weeks, and whether they will expand to more kindergartens and private preschool education institutes depends on how the robot performs with regard to safety and teaching efficiency.

In recent years, Xinjiang has adopted various artificial intelligence (AI) training programs for children. 

The Sanlian children's training center in Urumqi provides a robot building and programming class for children between the ages of 4 and 16, Zhang Jing, the center's director told the Global Times Tuesday.