Staying Connected: Implementing Avatar Robots at Schools in Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Japan

  • Date:
  • Time:
    16:00-18:00 (JST)
  • Location:
    Online (zoom)
  • Host:

    Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo

  • Co-host:

    JST Moonshot R&D Program “Cybernetic being” Project

  • Language:

    Japanese/English (simultaneous translation)

  • Entry fee:

    Not required

  • Registration:

    Advance online registration is required.
    Please pre-register for the Zoom webinar by clicking the registration button below.

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Avatar robots designed for children unable to attend school due to injury, illness, or disability have been increasingly adopted in Europe and Japan in recent years.
In Europe, the AV1, developed by a Norwegian company No Isolation, and in Japan, the OriHime, developed by OryLab Inc., are being employed for this purpose. Both robotic systems share similar physical attributes, featuring white bodies and comparable sizes and functionalities. However, there are some design distinctions. For example, the AV1 utilizes LED eyes to convey emotional expressions, while the OriHime pilots communicates through hand movements.
Despite their current deployment in educational contexts across diverse countries, persisting challenges encompass unresolved social, technical, legal, and ethical considerations. Additionally, differences exist based on region and country, determining the responsible parties for implementation and the specific student demographics expected to benefit from this system.
This event will show cases of avatar robots being introduced into educational environments in European countries and Japan, accompanied by discussions about their challenges and potential opportunities.

  • 16:00-16:05
    Opening Remarks

    Arisa Ema (Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo)

  • 16:05-16:20
    Case from Denmark

    Sofie Sejer Skoubo (Aarhus University)

  • 16:20-16:35
    Case from Norway

    Marit Haldar and Maja Nordtug (Oslo Metropolitan University)

  • 16:35-16:50
    Case from Germany

    Celia Spoden (German Institute for Japanese Studies)

  • 16:50-17:05
    Case from Japan

    Arisa Ema (Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo)

  • 17:05-18:00
    Panel discussion and Q&A

    Sofie Sejer Skoubo (Aarhus University)
    Marit Haldar (Oslo Metropolitan University)
    Maja Nordtug (Oslo Metropolitan University)
    Celia Spoden (German Institute for Japanese Studies)
    Arisa Ema (The University of Tokyo)

Bio of speakers

Sofie Sejer Skoubo is a PhD Student at Aarhus University and Rehabilitation Center for Neuromuscular diseases. Her research focuses on telepresence robots, school absence, chronic illness, and mobility to education. In her current PhD study, she explores what rights children with chronic illness and school absence have in the compulsory education in Scandinavian. Furthermore, the experience of using the telepresence robot AV1 for children with a neuromuscular disease and teachers to reduce absence in compulsory education and secure future higher education.

Marit Haldar is a professor at Oslo Metropolitan University and director of CEDIC (Centre for the study of digitalization of public services and citizenship). Important themes in her research are childhood, the elderly, gender, family, social inequality, social isolation and tele-presence. Equality and vulnerable subjects in the welfare state and health care system are primary concerns of her research. Her overall studies of normality and cultural perceptions of deviance have contributed to new understanding of what creates social inequality.

Maja Nordtug is a postdoctoral fellow at Oslo Metropolitan University. She has a PhD in media science from the University of Southern Denmark. Based on qualitative methods, Nordtug works with research on media and health. She has previously researched media use in connection with vaccine decisions and digital consultations between patient and doctor. She is currently working on a project about AV1, a robot specifically designed for children who cannot be at school for long periods of time.

Celia Spoden is a senior research fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) in Tokyo. Her research focusses on bioethical issues and the social impacts of digital transformation. In her current project she explores what opportunities and risks new technologies – especially telepresence and avatar technologies – mean for social participation and inclusion, and for interaction between human and human or human and machine. Her previous projects have included research on the relationship between life-sustaining treatments, social participation, and subjective quality of life.

Arisa Ema is an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. She is a researcher in Science and Technology Studies (STS), and her primary interest is to investigate the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence by organizing an interdisciplinary research group. She is currently conducting interviews with OriHime (avatar robot) pilots as part of the JST Mooshot Project with Celia Spoden to study the possibilities and challenges of a society in which avatar robots are used.


AI Governance Project
Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo

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The report of Staying Connected: Implementing Avatar Robots at Schools in Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Japan can be found by clicking the link button below.