Friday, July 10, 2015

Robot Petting Zoo: Up Close and Personal with Robots

Great piece from NPR...

"SXSW Debuts Robot Petting Zoo For A Personal Peek Into The Future Robots can be scary."
Listen to the story:

"...Dystopian films such as The Terminator tell the story of a world where robots take over.
But for some, robots are more like R2-D2, the cute bot from Star Wars. At this year's South by Southwest interactive festival, a petting zoo is aiming to evoke those same feelings. But, not just any petting zoo: a robot one.

BlabDroid is a small robot, less than a foot high, with bulldozer wheels, a cardboard body and a smile on his face. He's cute, but asks tough questions.

"Tell me something that you've never told a stranger before," he says.

NPR may not be the best platform to reveal secrets, but privately, the robot might have gotten an answer. Alexander Reben, BlabDroid's maker, says that's what he was designed for. Reben was studying robot human interaction at MIT when they decided to put a camera on the robot to see how people would respond when no one else was around.

Made of cardboard, BlabDroid asks tough, personal questions that many people are apparently willing to answer.
"It asked a guy from the Boston Marathon who wandered into the lab randomly, 'What do you do here?' " Reben says. "And he laid down on the floor and started saying 'Man, you know my flight has been grounded, and I really want to go home.' There's something here if this guy goes and tells a robot something that he wouldn't tell a person that he just met in that area..."

Read the full article at its source:


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