Problem & Inspiration

The challenge from Eficode & Bitville asks to use the Pepper robot in a disaster context. Our team focus on the children, who can be very traumatised after disaster events. This decision came after brainstorming and is supported by a research - traumatised children react better to robots than an adult. Our solution is Mappa (a contraction from "Mama" & "Papa", mother and father, the usual two first words that children learn). Mappa can speak easily any language and detect stressed children to bring a special help to them. Let's take a look at an important problem.

* Did you know that 1.75 million refugee children (from 5 to 11) do not have any access to the school? * [1]

The situation in a refugee camp is terrible. Families are moving to escape war, and welcoming country failing to bring help to people in needs. Mappa can help a lot the authorities or the associations to communicate and interact with children, in any language. In emergency situation, our idea is to calm down the children and collect data about them in a non-stressful and invasive way, by playing games. By using facial recognition, we can associate a missing child and bring it back to his family members. We also think about using temperatures sensors to detect if a child has a health problem. We also collect feedback about the emotional state of the child and spend more time with those who need more help. In a long-term, Mappa can serve as an interactive teacher in a context where it will be very difficult to bring any teachers.

[1] UNHCR’s Refugees Education : [http://www.unhcr.org/education.html]

[2] Childs in Disaster : [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK195865/]

[3] Protecting children in Disaster: [http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/061215_PARKS&REC_GUIDE_FINALB%20LOW%20RES.PDF]

How we built it

Pepper robot is run with Chorégraphe, where we build scenarios using coding block. Each block is meant to create specific interactions with children, depending on a range of possible detectors, such as facial recognition camera, or language recognition. Language recognition is very useful in this case, because young children are not able to write, so it's difficult for them to write their name for example.

You can also code use Python 2.6 for coding specific block. We use them to send pictures to a local server. Our idea is to run facial recognition algorithm to get data that child could not provide by themselves (age, parents if they are separate from their family, etc...).

For our back-end, we chose Firebase to handle data and pictures of a child taken by Mappa. It allows using quick setup of a Rest API to display our data on a website.

[https://firebase.google.com/] [https://developer.softbankrobotics.com/us-en/downloads/pepper] [https://aws.amazon.com/rekognition/]

Challenges we ran into

We create a working script to send data to Firebase through Python. Sadly it's not possible to implement the used library on Pepper, because needed version of Python are not the same. We lost time on this point.

We also faced difficulties in working with the Chorégraphe software, as it not the most stable programming environment :).

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

The Mappa program fro Pepper robot is really working and particular cute, we really would love to offering it to children in need of an emotional support! We also had the feeling as a team to work on very real and concerning problem: we hope that in the future this idea or this work can conduct some others team to solve definitely children problem in a painful situation such as war or disaster.

What I learned

  • Quentin: " How to work on a Hackathon, definitely. It's bringing a lot of challenges to solve in a short period of time. I also discover the Pepper robot and Chorégraphe software to program it. It brings me a lot about the potential use of AI for solving difficult problems such as disaster. "

  • Karolina: "At first, I wasn't sure about the idea - how can we use Pepper robot in a disaster context? We did brainstorming and same time I reminded myself all the research I heard about interactions between the robot and children. A final idea we got is the real problem that we can solve with Pepper! This was the best lesson for me - to not discard Pepper and humanoid robot at this time of the world."

  • Pyry: "Working in a completely new domain like robotics is very challenging but also rewarding. The main challenges were debugging Pepper and the Choreographe-IDE, which wasn’t very stable to say the least. In the end during the 48 hours we managed to come up with great ideas, setup backend for the data and code most of the interaction with the robot, which i’d say was a huge success."

What's next for Mappa

Mappa is an open source project and we will be very happy to continue to contribute to this project to make the world better. If charity is interested to get our idea, we will offer all the help that is needed to push forward the project.

Many improvements can be brought:

  • Offering the possibility to companies/robot owner to charge the Mappa program in emergency/disaster case.
  • Creating a full service to make the link between parents and child if they are separated during an event: parents could upload their picture and a picture of the missing child, if the robot scan a similar face somewhere the position can be shared with family (with a charity supervision, Redcross maybe?)
  • Robot can be transformed in a teacher/remote-teacher for long term supervision of children in need

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