While most 10-year-olds have, at some point, feigned illness in desperate attempts to cut class, Peyton Walton is not most 10-year-olds. This brave Maryland native is currently undergoing cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, but that’s not stopping her from going to class, even if it’s not in the most traditional sense. Thanks to modern technology, Peyton will be represented in school by a robot she calls PAVS (Peyton’s Awesome Virtual Self), effectively an iPad on wheels that displays her face on its screen and allows her to interact with her peers and teachers, almost as though she were there in person.
“As they see that robot in the hallways, that’s Peyton,” said Douglas Robbins, principal of Poolesville Elementary School where PAVS will be representing Peyton. “She’s here, she’s with us and she’s going to engage in the school day, just like the rest of them.” Thanks to the iPad’s video conferencing capabilities, Peyton will be able to participate in class discussions, ask questions, and going about her normal school life, only from a totally different state.
Manufactured by Double Robotics, the iPad and rolling base combination will be completely controlled by Peyton from afar, using an app that allows her to guide the structure through the halls. “I try not to crash into walls,” she told local news stations, which will certainly come with practice. Double Robotics is known for providing their technology to bedridden or otherwise remote students, giving them the full classroom experience without being in the classroom.
Peyton’s mother, Lynn Schaeber, is certainly a fan of the Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-connected robot. “It’s technology — what 10-year-old doesn’t love technology?” she said. “There’s a cool factor to this.”
And in addition to being cool, Schaeber notes that PAVS introduces just a bit of normalcy into what is not the most run-of-the-mill of situations. “Peyton is able to have a little bit more autonomy in her education,” Schaeber told local media. “She has control over her day-to-day activities in school, whereas cancer takes that from her, and really isolates her.”
So roll on, PAVS. And have the best day at school.