The World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April is dedicated to raising awareness about and getting a better understanding of people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. In Luxembourg, 1 person in every 100 is diagnosed with this complex disorder. Worldwide, 1 in every 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder. These children often have difficulties with social interactions, which can be detrimental to their future. They should benefit from a very early age from an education better adapted to their special needs. The Luxembourg start-up LuxAI created QTrobot, a social humanoid robot that can assist in teaching essential skills to these children.
This social robot has been designed to get the attention of children with autism and can be used as a training assistant performing a wide variety of human gestures, behaviours and facial expressions the children can imitate and reproduce. This technology is meant to facilitate these children’s integration into society and give them the best possible preparation for their future working life.
A project supported with European funding
The EU has supported LuxAI at two stages. The company received a €50,000 grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC) and €270,115 from Horizon 2020, the EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014-2020).
The €50,000 grant from the EIC enabled LuxAI to further develop the robotic platform. A large amount of content and applications – social robot therapies conceived by psychologists – that meet the needs of different individuals will be made available to parents, teachers and therapists. The QTrobot social robot platform allows autism therapists and care providers with no IT background to create, exchange, personalise, use and rate therapeutic robot applications.
Thanks to the EU funding through Horizon 2020 the company has upgraded the privacy and security of its robot platform, thus providing maximum protection for private data.
“If you invest in early-age education and training of children with autism and do it intensively enough, you can improve their lives enormously. The problem is that at the moment, there is a dramatic lack of educators and adequate therapies to provide this vital support,” says LuxAI CEO Pouyan Ziafati. “We believe that our QTrobot can contribute to turning this situation around.” Currently, several autism centres in different countries use QTrobot on a daily basis.