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10/01/2018 13:25 GMT | Updated 10/01/2018 13:31 GMT

Robot Duck Helps Kids Cope With Cancer

Cuddly on the outside, sophisticated robotics underneath.

A robotic duck, which can display emotions, is helping young cancer patients.

The social robot can be silly, happy, angry or scared and helps children express their emotions and cope with their illness through play.

It can also make the soothing sounds of a beach or rainforest and quack tunes, as well as doing deep-breathing exercises the child can mimic to relax. Plus, it has an attachable tube to emulate chemotherapy injections.

The duck, developed by robotics expert Aaron Horowitz and his company, is currently undergoing testing and is expected to be widely distributed by the end of this year.

AP

Horowitz and his team have been researching and talking to children with cancer for 18 months to perfect their robot. It’s modelled on the mascot for the insurance company Aflac, which paid for its development and is branding the duck with its name.

Aflac spokesman Jon Sullivan said the ducks - cuddly on the outside with sophisticated robotics hidden beneath a washable cover - will be given free to children diagnosed with cancer in the US.

Aflac and Horowitz say they want the ducks to provide comfort, help them cope with treatment, and distract them from what they’re going through.