The Transporters

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The Transporters is an animation series produced by Catalyst Pictures Ltd designed to help children with autism aged between two and eight years old recognise and understand emotions.

It was developed by the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge by a team led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and including Dr Ofer Golan.

The Transporters is based on the idea that children with autism may find faces confusing because they are unpredictable, because the autistic brain cannot cope with unpredictability. In Baron-Cohen's theory, children with autism are strong 'systemizers' and faces are hard to systemize. In contrast, children with autism have a preference for predictable systems. The Transporters therefore focuses on mechanical vehicles that only travel along tracks, because they are highly predictable systems. Grafted onto these animated vehicles are human faces. In this way, social skills teaching takes place in an autism friendly format.


A study [1] published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that after watching the DVD for 15 minutes a day for four weeks most children with ASC (autistic spectrum condition) caught up with typically developing children in their ability to recognise emotions on four different tasks.

The series[edit]

The Transporters DVD consists of 15 five-minute episodes, each featuring a key emotion. There are also 30 interactive quizzes and an accompanying booklet to reinforce learning. In 2007, the series was nominated for a BAFTA award.

The series features eight animated toy vehicles. Each has an actual human face so that viewers learn to recognise real rather than cartoon expressions. All the expressions were verified by an independent panel before they were included in the series.

There are two versions of the DVD, with different accents and vocabulary. The North American version is voiced by Kerry Shale and the British English version is voiced by Stephen Fry.

The Transporters was originally commissioned by Culture Online, which was part of the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


  1. The Transporters' Happy Day
  2. Sally's Sad Day
  3. Nigel's Slow Day
  4. Charlie Saves the Day
  5. A Very Exciting Day
  6. Jennie's Smelly Adventure
  7. Barney's Special Day
  8. William's Scrapyard Nightmare
  9. Charlie's Missed School Run
  10. Oliver The Kind Funicular
  11. Slow Down Nigel!
  12. The Great Race
  13. Why Can't I Be Somebody Else?
  14. Playing Around
  15. Jennie's Difficult Day

See also[edit]