Aniya Harris is just 6 months old but she is part of an important project.
Crawling is a baby's first step toward freedom, but if a baby is born with a disability and struggles to move, that can be more than a physical setback. They're whole development can lag behind.
That's why Aniya is helping researches at the University of Delaware design a pint size robot to help babies who can't get around on their own. In fact, right now they're testing the high-tech robot for safety.
"This particular device has sensors around it and these sensors allow it to find out what is the kind of the movement area or the free area in which the robot should navigate safely," says Sunil Agrawal, Ph.D., University of Delaware Researcher.
"We know that we can have an impact and now we're very driven to produce the training and technology to give these kids a chance," says Cole Galloway, Ph.D., P.T.
At this point, the tricky part is training a baby to steer with a joy stick. But researchers believe if healthy kids like Aniya catch on then doctors may soon be putting babies with special needs behind the wheel. Because they say that opportunity for early mobility could make all the difference.
Researchers hope to have the robot ready for use in and outside of the home within five years. And they say they plan on developing different baby robots to fit different needs.