Jackrabbit, The Polite Robot
Stanford University has been developing Jackrabbit, a polite robot that can maneuver in crowds without being, well, impolite.
(Jackrabbit, The Polite Robot)
Most of what we do in public, we do without thinking. For instance, when you stop to do something, you instinctively move over to the side of the sidewalk to get out of the way of others (or you should, anyway). And when you meet someone coming in the other direction, you both move around each other. You don't just stop and wait for the other person to do something, like a robot might do—in fact, if you did, it would seem aggressive.
The goal is to eventually build robots that can work alongside humans "in dynamic crowded environments such as terminals, malls, or campuses," says Stanford's project team, at the Computational Vision and Geometry Lab. As more jobs are taken over by robots, their ability to get along with people will become more important. As part of its training, the Jackrabbot is delivering mail, food, tools, and goods on the Stanford campus.
The reader should compare the Jackrabbit robot with the Knightscope K5 robot that recently got into trouble for running over a small child.
Science fiction readers are used to the idea of polite robots that always let human beings go first, like C3PO and Sonny of the I, Robot movie franchise. However, sometimes a bit more of an edge is needed in robot personalities.
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