How A Robot Survives In The City

  • Apparently, navigating through a city is a big issue. Thanks to Twitter I discovered a couple of initiatives helping vistors to find their way through the unknown urban jungle, either by using social software (Twitter, Google Maps) or by using iPhone tracking applications. The Tweenbots project by Kacie Kinzer is of an another kind and definitely the most remarkable. He uses pedestrians passing by to help a cardboard robot to navigate through New York City.

    “Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.”

    The main goal of the project was to find out how human beings interrelate to the complex urban space. According to Kacie the results are surprising. Passengers turn out to be really helpful to a lost robot.

    “Interesting is the fact that this ad-hoc crowdsourcing was driven primarily by human empathy for an anthropomorphized object. The journey the Tweenbots take each time they are released in the city becomes a story of people’s willingness to engage with a creature that mirrors human characteristics of vulnerability, of being lost, and of having intention without the means of achieving its goal alone.”