The Robot Uprising Against Autism

This is Bandit, a robot that's modeled after a human but manages to look unmistakeably synthetic. And for the autistic children Bandit treats, this disconnect from realism is entirely the point.

While even close family members can have extreme difficulty connecting to those with autism, machines can be extremely effective. With such an idea in mind, Bandit was designed by researchers at University of Southern California. The camera-eyed, bubble-blowing robot has only rough abilities to emote but serves as an approachable figure for children with autism, urging them to communicate at some intrinsically-effective level that I'm not so sure we actually understand yet.

PopSci wrote an excellent feature on Bandit and the research around the robot. It's very touching, very cool stuff. [PopSci]