A Maryland girl who is undergoing cancer treatment will be able to attend school with the help of a robot.
Ten-year-old Peyton Walton of Montgomery County will soon undergo five weeks of treatment at Memorial Sloan Cancer Center in New York, according to WRC-TV. During that time, a robot she calls “Peyton’s Awesome Virtual Self,” or PAVS, will attend school for her at Poolesville Elementary School.
The robot features an iPad screen attached to a rolling base. Walton will see and hear what the robot observes, and she can socialize with friends as her robot stand-in rolls down the halls. She’ll control the robot with an app and be able to respond to people talking with her. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity tie the remote user to the robot’s iPad and the iPad to the roller.
“As they see that robot in the hallways, that’s Peyton,” said school principal Douglas Robbins. “She’s here, she’s with us and she’s going to engage in the school day, just like the rest of them.”
Walton’s friends helped her pay the robot’s $3,000 cost.
The robot comes from Double Robotics, a company that has helped other people in situations similar to Walton’s receive an education remotely. It also sells robots to telecommuters and doctors who need a remote presence.
At Poolesville, Walton is still getting used to her PAVS; “I try not to crash into walls,” she said.
The robot is bringing a little excitement into what otherwise would be an unrelentingly anxious and painful time, according to her mother, Lynn Schaeber.
“Peyton is able to have a little bit more autonomy in her education,” Schaeber said. “She has control over her day-to-day activities in school, whereas cancer takes that from her, and really isolates her.”