Tweenbot on the Road - Image © Kacie Kinzer

Tweenbot: a human-dependent robot (not from the future).

Found the link to this “robot/people art” project by Kacie Kinzer via Geekologie and was somewhat fascinated. Okay, I will also cop to the fact that the first thing that caught my eye was the cardboard robot’s cute, smiling face. I’m a sucker for robot-related things, and giving it a big wide smile was a good call. Find out more about the Tweenbot after the jump.

From the Tweenbots site:

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 site linked above has a video of the little bot in action. At first I was skeptical, I didn’t see nearly enough people reading the flag before setting the robot back on course, so I wondered if the whole thing was a set up. At one point though, one person reads the flag and then does nothing. This seemed like a realistic enough reaction to convince me that this wasn’t just an adorable hoax. Actually, come to think of it, there should be more adorable hoaxes.

Tweenbot Mission #1 - Image © Kacie Kinzer

On the bot’s first mission to get from the Northeast to the Southwest Corner of Washington Square Park, it took 42 minutes with 29 people intervening to put the robot on the right path. I’m somewhat interested in this experiment from a voyeuristic perspective and also because I sometimes wonder how many people will take the time out of their busy lives to just LOOK at their surroundings. I’m certainly guilty of being oblivious to the world around me at times, but I have to think if I saw a cute robot rolling down the street, I’d have to take a closer look.

I have to wonder though, would the results be the same with a scary or ugly robot? I think people are drawn to things that are somewhat indefinably “cute”, so I’m curious to know if it would work with different subject matter. Still, an interesting thesis project and I’d look forward to seeing more from Kacie.

All images are from the Tweenbots site, © copyright Kacie Kinzer.