Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tweenbots:Robots Use Human Goodwill to Navigate

Tweenbots are a project by Kacie Kinzer to use crowdsourcing to help little robots navigate Manhattan. The robots are small little box shaped things about 6 inches high. The Tweenbots each have a cardboard outside with a smiley face drawn on them. Each robot has a flag attached that explains where the robot is trying to go and asks people to direct it in the right direction. The bots can only travel in straight lines and so they rely on people pointing them in the right directions. Kinzer drops the bot off in one area and then sees how long it takes the bot to get where it is supposed to go.

In the first trial run, it took the robot 42 minutes to get from one corner of Washington Square Park to the opposite corner. Kinzer concealed a video camera in her purse and tailed the bot from far away enough that people would not connect her to the robot.

Kinzer intially expected the bots to be highly disposable given normal attitudes about assisting others as well as worries about terrorism and other issues. However, so far not a single bot has been lost. This speaks surprisingly well of people. Also, these are just cool.

Kinzer's website has pictures and video. Go check it out.


Hepius said...

Thanks for posting this. I checked out the video. I often expect the worst out of humanity, but am delighted to find myself proven wrong. Fear makes us want to mistrust others, but in reality I think we are predisposed to cooperation.

Joshua said...

I suspect that this may show more that humans are highly predisposed to help things that look cute and can be anthropomorphized.

Hepius said...

I read somewhere that "cute" animals in danger of extinction are much more likely to get money donated on their behalf. An endangered deadly spider will not pull in nearly as much money as an endangered fluffy bunny.