SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, July 21, 2021 – Artificial Intelligence (AI) robot Alpha Mini will be introduced at Seoul’s nursery schools. The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) announced a new pilot project to use Alpha Mini in helping the language and emotional development of infants as they have had difficulties joining special activities during the protracted pandemic.
The project was one of the election pledges of Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon. In a bid to strike a balance between work and family, Mayor Oh promised to establish a “non-contact home childcare and growth management system through AI” in the care service sector.
Alpha Mini is a small-sized humanoid robot that is 24.5cm tall and weighs 0.7kg. Since it has Naver’s AI platform, every content on the platform is available to users. The robot can walk, sit and move like humans. It can also have a natural conversation, tell fairy tales, dance, and sing songs.
In particular, Alpha Mini can emotionally interact with young kids by expressing its feelings through eyes. For example, it blinks, winks, and turns its eyes into hearts when it feels happy.
The SMG expects that this pilot project will allow children to experience AI robots, which is one of the core technologies of the future. At the same time, the city government seeks to entertain children who are tired of restricted outdoor activities, such as forest activities and field trips, amid this lengthy pandemic. In addition, since Alpha plays a role as an assistant teacher, nursing teachers’ burden to lead the class will be reduced.
Seoul will select 60 nursery schools among applicants every month, supports them on a monthly basis. The city will rent Alpha Mini to 300 nursery schools for five months (from August to December).
Those who have benefited from the project for five months should participate in satisfaction surveys and in-depth interviews. The SMG plans to examine and analyze the effectiveness of the project based on the surveys and interviews and decide whether to expand the project in 2022.
Daycare centers wanting to utilize AI robots can apply by sending an email to Seoul Support Center For Childcare. No other qualification is required. Alpha Mini is rent-free, but its rental period is one month. When renting out robots, Seoul offers training programs about using its essential functions and managing them.
Kim Seon-soon, Deputy Mayor for Women & Family Policy Affairs, said, “Considering that our children are going to live the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, it is natural to use AI in daycare centers, and the SMG will lead the way.”