society

Emirati student developing robots that can attend school for sick students

New invention by 16-year-old Fatima Al Kaabi will allow sick children to attend school by controlling robots

12:56 December 5, 2017
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Dubai: A 16-year-old Emirati student is helping her school in Ajman become the first in the country to have robots attend classes instead of students who are unable to due to sickness.

The Emirati student, Fatima Al Kaabi (right), is known as the UAE’s youngest inventor.

Being the recipient of the UAE Pioneers Award and first-place winner of the UAE Robotics Olympics, Al Kaabi who came up with her first invention at the age of seven, is now focusing on a new project targeting sick children.

 With the help of the school, I was able to bring one [robot] and use it in our school towards developing the prototype I’m working on. We are still working on a mechanism that enables students who are injured or sick to use the one we have currently.”

 - Fatima Al Kaabi, High School student and inventor


“It is a robot that attends physically for students who are unable to do so, and it’s targeted specifically for kids with cancer who spend long periods of time in hospitals in their home countries or outside,” Al Kaabi told Gulf News.

Currently working on the prototype, Al Kaabi is using a similar robot with less features at her school — Manor Hall International School — to build her own before the end of the year.

“With the help of the school, I was able to bring one (robot) and use it in our school towards developing the prototype I’m working on. We are still working on a mechanism that enables students who are injured or sick to use the one we have currently,” she explained.

The project aims to include sick children, who are not only missing their classes, but also the social aspect of attending school.

“We are aiming to have three to five robots functioning by next year, which would work well with my school,” said Al Kaabi.

An absent student using the robot would be able to control it around the school through a website. The robot includes a screen that projects the student’s face, along with sensors to prevent it from falling off the stairs or bumping into people in the hallway. “There are a few features that use artificial intelligence, which I hope to add in the future,” said the project’s mastermind.

Al Kaabi said the idea to create a robot that can replace students came about from a joke.

“I missed school to attend different events several years ago, and I remember staying back with my teacher after school who joked about me inventing “all the inventions in the world” but not inventing a robot that goes to school instead of me,” chuckled Al Kaabi.

After having a laugh, Al Kaabi realised that creating such an invention would help out many people, and decided to focus on sick students — particularly those suffering from cancer.

The high school student has developed 12 inventions so far including a Braille printer, photographer robot, a collection solar-panelled bags, a smart wheel that prevents drivers from being distracted and using their phones on the road, an electronic belt for the hearing impaired, and electronic bracelets which are being developed to enhance security at Dubai Expo 2020, among others.