Robot attends school for 10-year-old cancer patient

Ten-year-old Peyton Walton will be able to see and hear what the robot observes; she will control the gizmo with an app; the machine has an iPad screen attached to a rolling base

Poolesville: A girl who is undergoing cancer treatment will be able to attend school with the help of a robot. Ten-year-old Peyton Walton will soon undergo five weeks of treatment at Memorial Sloan Cancer Center in New York. During that time, a robot she calls “Peyton’s Awesome Virtual Self," or PAVS, will attend school for her in the state of Maryland.

Robot student
Representational picture

The robot features an iPad screen attached to a rolling base. Walton will see and hear what the robot observes, and she can socialise with friends as her robot stand-in rolls down the halls. She’ll control the robot with an app and be able to respond to people talking with her. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity tie the remote user to the robot’s iPad and the iPad to the roller.

“As they see that robot in the hallways, that’s Peyton,” said school principal Douglas Robbins. “She’s here, she’s with us and she’s going to engage in the school day, just like the rest of them.” Walton’s friends helped her pay the robot’s $3,000 (Rs 2 lakh) cost.

The robot comes from Double Robotics, a company that has helped other people in situations similar to Walton’s receive an education remotely. Walton is still getting used to her PAVS, “I try not to crash into walls,” she said. “The robot is bringing a little excitement into what otherwise would be an unrelentingly anxious and painful time”, Lynn Schaeber, 10-year-old’s mother said.

“Peyton is able to have a little bit more autonomy in her education. She has control over her day-to-day activities in school, whereas cancer takes that from her,” Schaeber said.

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