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China is using adorable robot teachers in kindergartens

The Keeko robots are popular with students, and are part of the wave of robots sweeping China.

Children dancing with a Keeko robot after class at the Yiswind Institute of Multicultural Education in Beijing. 
Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

Rotund and full of life, the Keeko robot is an unconventional teacher of kids in China, covering things like storytelling and problem-solving.

Designed to be adorably cute, the 60-centimetre tall robot sports tiny wheels and a large screen for its face. Keeko costs $1,500 and is apparently a hit among school kids, according to AFP, with other Keekos deployed to 600 kindergartens around the country.

When kids answer questions correctly or successfully complete challenges posed by Keeko, the robot flashes its "heart-shaped eyes". While the tiny teacher has been mostly well received, a Beijing school principal did point out that Keeko still has a ways to go before completely replacing humans, lacking a certain human touch. The principal did, however, acknowledge that robots were more reliable than humans.

Robot teachers aren't exactly new, of course. Back in 2010, South Korea used a robot in schools to teach English.