A Feasibility Study Evaluating the Emotionally Expressive Robot SAM

Academic Article


  • This two-part feasibility study evaluated the functionality and acceptability of Socially Animated Machine (SAM), a humanoid robotic monkey developed to elicit social interaction in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Socially Animated Machine was designed with an approachable, animal-like appearance, while preserving the essential features of a human face. The intent was to design a robot that would be interesting and engaging to children with ASD, yet maintain the capability to model facial expressions that convey emotional subtlety. Study 1 evaluated the accuracy of SAM’s emotional facial expressions. Typically developing children (N= 35) labeled and matched SAM’s expressions to photos of human expressions with moderate-to-substantial levels of agreement. Study 2 compared children’s level of social engagement across an interaction with SAM and an interaction with an adult experimenter. Children with ASD (N= 13) spent significantly more time attending to the partner’s face while interacting with SAM. When asked to rate their interaction with SAM, children with ASD reported high levels of happiness and comfort and requested additional interactions. These results suggest that SAM may serve as a useful tool in interventions to improve social skills, including emotion recognition, in children with ASD.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Koch SA; Stevens CE; Clesi CD; Lebersfeld JB; Sellers AG; McNew ME; Biasini FJ; Amthor FR; Hopkins MI
  • Start Page

  • 601
  • End Page

  • 613
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 4