Robotic Toy ‘Leka’ Designed for Kids with Autism

The rolling robot BB-8 captivated moviegoers as it helped save the day in the 2016 film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — though even the most die-hard fan would admit that we aren’t likely to see a real-world robot quite like that in the near future.

Meet Leka, a rolling robot that can be programmed to engage with children that have developmental disabilities. Credit: Leka

Meet Leka, a rolling robot that can be programmed to engage with children that have developmental disabilities.
Credit: Leka

However, there’s another spherical, programmable, rolling robot currently in development that’s capable of doing important work to engage children with special needs, particularly children on the autism spectrum.

Described by its designers as “a robotic companion,” the roly-poly Leka robot is shaped like a ball, has an endearing “face” that changes expressions, and uses sound, light and colors to interact with users through customizable games that improve cognitive and motor skills. Caregivers and educators can program the toy to guide children with developmental disabilities through a range of activities, helping them to improve communication and learn to connect with their environment and with others around them. Read More.