The robotic instruments will be designed to observe and automatically analyse abnormalities in children’s movements and behaviours.

Researchers are currently using Xbox Kinect to track the subjects and are planning to use novel robots with equipped with specialised detectors and software to analyse the probability of abnormalities.

Once developed, the robotic devices could help identify children at risk of developing mental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The research team was awarded two grants totaling more than $3m from the National Science Foundation for the project.