For people with disabilities, finding a good buddy or assistant can help make all the difference when learning new things or just navigating everyday life.

But at the same time, working with a person can be limiting. People have a hard time maintaining enthusiasm and struggle to provide forgiveness when faux pas are constant. But what if a robot could do the job instead, with the same methodical intensity that machines can offer any task?

Sounds crazy, but researchers are working to create “socially assistive” robots to help people with varying types of disabilities more easily interact with the world around them. The trick, researchers say, is that robots need a personality that humans can relate to in order for the devices to be effective.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Research is in its early stages, but it looks promising. Children with disabilities who have worked with early models of such devices seem to respond well. One young girl with autism learned to imitate motions, something her parents could never get her to do. And, when children with physical disabilities used robots controlled by joysticks to help them build with Legos and other toys, they were able to feel the joy that other children get from traditional play, reports The Washington Post. To read more click here.