Arizona State University (ASU) in the US has organised a graduation ceremony for its students virtually using robots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Reuters, students of the institution who had planned for months preparing to receive their master’s degree diploma saw their hopes dashed following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The university, however, considered the option of holding the ceremony virtually for its students from the comfort of their homes.
To achieve this, the institution used robots as stand-ins for the graduating students. The students were able to control the robots — which were topped with tablet computers showing video screens of their faces — across the stage.
About 140 of the graduands were pre-recorded as they logged on at home early this week, dressed in graduation robes and mortar board caps.
The graduating students had consequently took turns moving a remote-controlled robot on a podium at the university that held an eye-level display showing their face.
With the help of the robots, the students approached Sanjeev Khagram, the dean and director general of Thunderbird School of Global Management, at the university to receive their diplomas and take a photo.
Khagram said the idea seemed crazy at first but they had to work on it so as to celebrate their students.
“To be honest, my team thought I was completely crazy. I was like, ‘I want robots, we’ve got to do robots! We want to show that we did everything that we could to celebrate them,” he was quoted as saying.
Nancy Sierras Morales, 22, one of the students, said while the novel idea was unusual, they had to quickly adapt to the reality.
“We have been able to adapt very quickly because we are used to being on a computer and on the phone almost like 24/7. Graduating virtually, it’s not ideal but it’s actually also very cool and iconic to be like the first class ever to do this,” she said.
The robots, produced by Double Robotics, based in Burlingame, California, had earlier been used to allow people to show up at weddings and funerals without traveling.