Robot to Attend School for 10-Year-Old Cancer Patient

POOLESVILLE, Md. (AP) -

A Maryland girl who is undergoing cancer treatment in Manhattan will be able to attend her elementary school class with the help of a robot.

Peyton Walton, 10, will soon undergo five weeks of treatment at Memorial Sloan Cancer Center. During that time, a robot she calls “Peyton’s Awesome Virtual Self,” or PAVS, will attend school for her.

The robot features an iPad screen attached to a rolling base. Walton will see and hear what the robot observes, and she can socialize with friends as her robot stand-in rolls down the halls. She’ll control the robot with an app and be able to respond to people talking with her.

“As they see that robot in the hallways, that’s Peyton,” said principal Douglas Robbins. “She’s here, she’s with us and she’s going to engage in the school day, just like the rest of them.”

Walton’s friends helped her pay the robot’s $3,000 cost.

At Poolesville, Walton is still getting used to her PAVS; “I try not to crash into walls,” she said.

The robot is bringing a little excitement into what otherwise would be an unrelentingly anxious and painful time, says her mother, Lynn Schaeber.

“Peyton is able to have a little bit more autonomy in her education,” Schaeber said. “She has control over her day-to-day activities in school, whereas cancer takes that from her, and really isolates her.”