Robot Mars: every child’s friend

Robot Mars: every child’s friend

The Brazilian innovation centre CESAR wants to explore robotics and aims to develop an advanced robot in 10 years. It’s asked Spark Brazil in Recife for support in as it takes the first steps.

Lonelier

The starting point is to develop a simple robot for children. “Something fun for the toy store,” explains Spark project leader Hugo Honijk. “But during the brainstorm sessions that we organized, we came across the trend that children in Brazil will become lonelier in the future. It will become less safe on the streets, both parents work more often and the number of one-child families is growing.” This gave Mars – the robot’s working name – a purpose: educational, emotional and physical support for the child. “There was already an idea that CESAR Mars should be used, for example, to develop educational programmes for schools. They are really good at that.”

Universe

Mars is now in the prototype phase. He can turn and tumble on the spot, show emotions, talk and run various programs on a cartridge in the jetpack on his back: reading to the child, challenging them to exercise or, for example, learn to brush their teeth. There’s a reason why he cannot move independently. “So that he is helpless and pathetic – also in terms of his design – so that you have to pick him up.”

Sparks contribution wasn’t limited to guidance, concept development and design. In collaboration with CESAR, the team developed an entire universe around Mars, complete with backstory and folklore. This way, the concept can be translated into, for example, film or gaming. Honijk: “In this case, it was not just about the dry, technical interpretation but also about the emotional, conceptual context. A great project to work on.”