Robots designed to help hospitalized, isolated children featured in Norfolk art exhibit

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robot David's Project.jpeg
Posted at 11:05 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 18:22:05-05

NORFOLK, Va. – Inside the Barry Art Museum on the campus of Old Dominion University, visitors will see a new exhibit titled “Motion/Emotion: Exploring Affect from Automata to Robots.”

According to the museum website, “By highlighting the intersections between art, science, and emotion, this exhibition seeks to connect the Barry Art Museum’s historical automata to 21st-century interests while also asking how robots can help us better understand our own humanity.”

The exhibit not only features antique dolls, specifically, automatons, which are essentially precursors to the modern-day robots, but it also includes a prototype of a robot designed to help hospitalized children. It’s called “David’s Project,” and it is named in memory of David Carey, who died in 2019 at the age of 13 after battling Leukemia. He was treated at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.

The robot is the work of Tina Gustin, the co-director of ODU's Center for Telehealth Innovation, Education and Research and clinical manager for the Pediatric Telehealth program at CHKD.

According to ODU, Gustin met Carey while offering pet therapy sessions with her dog. Gustin is collaborating with Yiannis Papelis, a research professor at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center to build the first telehealth robot for children. The team worked with students at the Governor's School for the Arts to identify a kid-friendly design, constructing a prototype with the approximate height of an average 8-year-old child. ODU representatives say the team hopes to begin testing the prototype at CHKD this year.

Barry Art Museum is located at 1075 W. 43rd Street in Norfolk. An opening event will be held Friday, February 11 from 5 – 8 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through 2022. For more information including hours, click here.