China now using robots to teach pupils in schools due to shortage of teachers
The humanoid, powered by artificial intelligence, has appeared in kindergartens across China to teach pupils as the country faces a serious shortage of teachers.
According to DailyMail, Bingo, one of the first robotic kindergarten teachers in the country, has been designed to specialise in various subjects. from science to English to golf, according to its developer.
Ming Haibo, who has a PhD degree in computer science from distinguished Tsinghua University in Beijing, started developing Bingo three years ago with his team after founding his company Ai Bingo (Love Bingo).
A father of two young children, the 36-year-old man started out his business by creating a robot to teach children at home.
Speaking to MailOnline, Dr Ming said he seldom had time to accompany his children due to busy work, therefore he thought of the idea of making a cute and educational robot for them.
He said he also believed that robots would have great advantages in helping children review the knowledge they learn from school and correct children’s homework.
Dr Ming’s company now has two types of Bingo robot: one to teach children at kindergartens that sells for 29,800 yuan (£3,400), and one to accompany children at home with a retail price of 1,199 yuan (£136).
China is facing a serious shortage of kindergarten teachers, especially after the central government encouraged couples to have more babies. In 2016, Beijing launched a new family-planning policy to replace the long-standing one-child policy, which allows families to have up to two children.
According to a previous report from China News, the country will have 15 million boys and girls needing pre-school education each year by 2021 – a number its educational system would not be able to handle.
With the growing number of young children, the country will be facing a shortage of 110,000 kindergartens and more than three million teachers in two years, it has been reported.
Meanwhile, around 30 per cent of current kindergarten teachers in China reportedly leave their teaching job to work in other industries each year in order to earn higher wages.
It comes as little surprise that kindergartens and nurseries around China have bought robots to help with their faculty members.
Bingo, for example, has been purchased by around 1,500 kindergartens in major cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Zhengzhou and Wuhan.
The robot has been programmed to teach a series of subjects including science, English, golf and the art of speaking with more curricula installed in a database in the cloud for it to use, according to Dr Ming.
At a typical lesson, Bingo can recognise pupils and check their attendance by scanning their faces with its camera powered by facial recognition technology.
The robot can ask questions to the class as well as answer questions from the children. It is capable of rating the pupils’ answers by listening to their speech and detecting their facial expressions. Afterwards, Bingo will grade each child’s performance using a special rating system developed by the company and send the results directly to parents.
Bingo’s camera is installed about 78 centimetres (30 inches) above the ground, which is the average sitting height of a Chinese child in a kindergarten, and its arms and head are built with enhanced material in order to sustain repeated touches from curious children.
Dr Ming said the next step for his company is to develop an upgraded version of Bingo which can display a wide range of emotions in order for it to be a ‘more capable and gentle’ teacher for small children.
Chinese firms have invested a large amount of money and manpower on developing AI technology in recent years as part of the central government’s effort to re-position the country to be a high-tech manufacturing powerhouse by 2025.
Last week, Xinhua News Agency welcomed its first female AI anchor Qu Xiaomeng after unveiling two virtual male presenters last year. As the country’s state-run press agency, Xinhua is expanding its team of AI newsreaders which are based on their popular human journalists.
Meanwhile, a female robot host, Jiang Lailai, has wowed the Chinese television viewers after appearing in a new entertainment programme last month.