KUSA - Among the students at one elementary school classroom in the suburbs of Buffalo New York is a robot.
Instead of raising his hand, a special light lets the teacher know he has a question. The robot switches classrooms along with the kids, using wheels instead of legs, though he needs a little help with the steps.
Controlling this robot through a wireless network from his home several miles away is seven-year-old Devon Carrow. "It's kind of like a video game that i play. It's so cool," Devon explained.
Devon has a life-threatening allergy to milk and peanuts. If the particles in the air touch his skin or he inhales them his throat will close up. "Your objective is to like survive, to survive as long as you can," Devon said.
Tired of the trips to the emergency room, his mother Rene Carrow lobbied the school board, and they bought the robot, called Vgo. "A mothers' love for her child. I didn't what my child to be left off," Rene said. "Could I have kept my son home and just homeschooled him myself?" Rene asked. "I probably could have but then he wouldn't get the social interaction, and he wouldn't grow with his peers."
Devon starts the day by logging in, then saying the pledge of allegiance with other kids at Winchester Elementary. A teacher appointed by the school sits next to him at home, helping him through the day. "The whole school part of it is cool cause I really never got to go to school before so it's kind of like awesome," Devon said.
He follows lesson plans and is eager to earn extra credit in his favorite subject, math. His teacher Dawn Voelker says Devon's robot blends right into the classroom. "It doesn't really matter how they learn and how they come in," said Dawn. "I mean wearing glasses versus being on a Vgo it's really the same. They still have the same needs as everybody else and they need to learn."
The technology is not perfect. Devon's teacher sometimes has to reboot the robot, or Devon loses connection on his end. The company that makes Vgo is based in Nashua, New Hampshire.
They now have more than a hundred robots in use, most of them working in health care.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)