Avatar robot goes to school instead of a sick German boy

BERLIN, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Seven-year-old German student Joshua Martinangeli is too ill to go to school. However, you can still interact with your teacher and classmates through an avatar robot that sits in class in your place and sends out a flashing signal when you have something to say.

“The children talk to him, laugh with him and sometimes even chat with him during class. Joshi can do quite well too,” Ute Winterberg, director of Berlin’s Pusteblume-Grundschule, told Reuters.

Joshua is unable to attend classes because he has a tube in his neck due to serious lung disease, said his mother, Simone Martinangeli.

The project is a private initiative paid for by the local council of the Berlin district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

“We are the only district in Berlin that has bought four avatars for its schools. The push was given by COVID-19, but I think this will be the future beyond the pandemic,” said district education councilor Torsten Kuehne.

“From time to time, for various reasons, it happens that a child cannot go to class in person. Then the avatar can give them the opportunity to continue being part of the school community,” he added.

As indicated, the project has already been raised in political debates at the state level.

“I like him either way because I like the avatar,” student Noah Kuessner said when asked if he’s looking forward to seeing Joshua again.

“I would like it more if Joshi could actually come to school,” said another classmate, Beritan Aslanglu.

(Reporting by Gabi Sajonz-Grimm, Oliver Barth, and Fanny Brodersen; writing by Zuzanna Szymanska; editing in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)


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