This robotic duck may soon be offering support to children with cancer.

The social robot can be silly, happy, angry, scared or sick just like them, and help them cope with their illness through the power of play.

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Aaron Horowitz was diagnosed with a debilitating condition as a child. He and his Rhode Island-based company Sproutel developed the emotional support robot to help children manage stress and change the way they deal with their health.

Along with the duck, young patients are given a deck of emoji cards showing emotions. When they click the card to the duck’s chest, it starts acting in the manner of the card.

The duck is modelled after the mascot for US-based insurance company Aflac, which paid for its development. Beginning later in 2018, the ducks will be distributed free to young patients in the US.

The company has previously produced Jerry The Bear, a toy designed to help children with diabetes.

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