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Robotics Science

"Tweenbots" Test NYC Pedestrian-Robot Relations 197

Posted by kdawson
from the heart-of-gold-beneath-that-hard-bitten-exterior dept.
MBCook recommends Kacie Kinzer's tweenbots page, which documents some of her experiments with small, anthropomorphized robots that need help. Kinzer is writing a thesis (at the Center for the Recently Possible) centered around investigating whether people in New York City will help a cute little robot to get where it's going. "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."
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"Tweenbots" Test NYC Pedestrian-Robot Relations

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  • Good Grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unlametheweak (1102159) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:24PM (#27544939)

    Griefers [wikipedia.org] will love this toy.

  • by Briareos (21163) * on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:25PM (#27544945)

    ...that the bomb squad didn't show up [wikipedia.org]?

    np: Radiohead - Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2) (Airbag / How Am I Driving?)

    • by steelfood (895457) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:44PM (#27545073)

      When tourists see it, they say, "New York City." and take pictures.
      When natives see it, they say, "New York City." and move on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:53PM (#27545113)

      There's a reason they're doing this in New York, and not Boston, there. Keep in mind that those things were in other major cites, and Boston is the only major city in the world to order evacuations over LED animated cartoon characters.

      There's a reason that Boston isn't known for anything except baked beans and New York is a center for culture, art, music, and science.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Briareos (21163) *

        There's a reason that Boston isn't known for anything except baked beans and New York is a center for culture, art, music, and science.

        Heh.

        My home town is this year's European "Capital of Culture" (aka "Linz 09" [linz09.at])...

        I still don't see how putting a ferris wheel on top of a parking garage [linz09.at] is very cultural, but maybe that's just me.

        np: Herbert - Harmonise (Scale)

      • There's a reason they're doing this in New York, and not Boston

        Yeah - and the reason is that there's so much weird shit going on in New York at any given time, nobody will notice the tweenbots. Not to mention that New York is (in)famous for being the rudest city in the US. If a tweenbot can survive there, it can survive anywhere.

        • by Anubis350 (772791)

          Not to mention that New York is (in)famous for being the rudest city in the US. If a tweenbot can survive there, it can survive anywhere.

          Not really true though [readersdigest.ca] :-p. From personal experience since I grew up in the city, still live here, but have traveled a lot - it's not really that we're rude, it's that jumbled as we are we're more "nosy" than most, combined with a brusqueness that outsiders interpret as rude.

          • by tsa (15680)

            We Dutch are the rudest people in the world, so you can still learn a lot from us I think. In Amsterdam these little robots would be flattended or thrown in a canal in no time.

            • by CdBee (742846)
              Arguably the Afghans and Iraqis show a greater capacity for rudeness than the Dutch of recent centuries. Altho' the Germans might disagree....
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Wodin (33658)

              We Dutch are the rudest people in the world, so you can still learn a lot from us I think. In Amsterdam these little robots would be flattended or thrown in a canal in no time.

              Interesting, given that New York City was at one time called New Amsterdam [wikipedia.org] :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Idunno... there's still Jersey.

      • I imagine if you did this stuff here in Omaha, you'd be arrested or fined for disturbing the peace.

    • by LordKaT (619540) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:12PM (#27545215) Homepage Journal

      As someone born and raised in NYC (I didn't spend most of my days on the playground, though), I can say I'm not surprised in the least.

      This city is as "business minded" and conservative as it is "artsy" and liberal. Quite frankly, there's so much shit going on in this city on any given day that things like this just don't seem like anything important.

      I can't begin to tell you how many times I've managed to walk through the middle of a TV show or movie taping simply because I was walking to the subway, or how many unique pieces of art I've actually stepped on (because they were built into the sidewalk) - all of which were genius in their own right, and would be praised as such in any smaller city, but because of the overwhelming amount of stuff here, its artistic importance is significantly diminished.

    • I've seen weirder things in the city (I live in NYC).

      I once saw a girl walking a watermelon on a leash. and by walking, I mean draggin... on a leash, like it was a dog. She was about 25. Lots of people here do strange things for fun or art :P Not to mention the myriad of weird advertising campaigns we have.
      • by harry666t (1062422) <harry666t&gmail,com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:51PM (#27545421)
        It must be fun to live there. In my city (Bydgoszcz, Poland), the most interesting random thing I recently saw happening on a street was a bunch of cats sitting together with pidgeons:

        http://fc02.deviantart.com/fs42/f/2009/059/f/1/freedom_by_harry666t.jpg

        However, the only thing that actually keeps making my city less and less attractive to me, is that it's getting harder and harder for me to get lost in it. I just know it too good, and I like exploring new places, getting somewhat lost, turning a short, 3h walk into a "where am I and how the fuck do I get back home from here".
    • by NoseyNick (19946)
      Lesson for terrorists: Paint a smiley face with big eyes on your roving bomb, give it a "help me" flag, and the public will help deliver it to your intended target. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:28PM (#27544971)

    Constantly text messaging other tweenbots.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:50PM (#27545107)

      Tweenbots: easily the most annoying robot ever.

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Tweenbot: i am in Central Park Tweenbot: i have run into a fence. a nice lady is moving me in the other direction. Tweenbot: i am stuck by a tree. a dog is sniffing me. Tweenbot: dog piss smells. note to self: when lost dont ask dogs for directions Tweenbot: ask nice robot lady to upgrade module so i can write capital letters Tweenbot: ouch! bicycles hurt!
      • by v1 (525388) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:39PM (#27546201) Homepage Journal

        Tweenbot: ask nice robot lady to upgrade module so i can write capital letters

        I was just thinking how hilarious and interesting it would be to find out where they were planning to release one of these, and mug it during the test, and do a 30 second Indy pitstop to upgrade it with say, voice or something else before they could react, and scatter, and see what the coordinators thought of that...

        A little turmabout, let THEM become the social experiment... :)

    • by Briareos (21163) *

      Wouldn't that be Tweetbots? *shudder*

      np: Herbert - We're In Love (Scale)

  • by relikx (1266746)
    That's what I think of when I hear tweenbot [wikipedia.org]
  • Please put me back in the water.
  • Cute robot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alarindris (1253418) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:40PM (#27545045)
    I wonder what would happen if he had a frowny face? Or changing the wording on the flag to be less helpless or even rude?

    I've always wondered if I took a postcard, wrote someone's name and city to be delivered to, and gave it to a random person. Would it ever get there? I'm going to try it tonight.
    • by wjh31 (1372867)
      very interesting point. Does anyone know what the actual wording on the message is/was? I cant see it in the article anywhere...
    • Re:Cute robot (Score:5, Interesting)

      by orangepeel (114557) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:10PM (#27545205)
      Your post reminds me a little of the "Postal Experiments" [improbable.com] that I remember reading about amongst some comments here on Slashdot nearly 10 years ago:

      We sent a variety of unpackaged items to U.S. destinations, appropriately stamped for weight and size, as well as a few items packaged as noted. We sent items that loosely fit into the following general categories: valuable, sentimental, unwieldy, pointless, potentially suspicious, and disgusting.

      It's tough to say what my personal favorite was, but I think the helium-filled balloon at least deserves special mention. :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hhr (909621)

      > "I've always wondered if I took a postcard, wrote someone's name and city to be delivered to, and gave it to a random person. Would it ever get there?"

      That experiement has already be done. Read about Milgram's "Small World Experiement." It's the experiement that originated the phrase "Six Degrees of Separation." Milgram did a rigours version of "write a name and city on a post card and ask a random person to help deliver it."

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zorg50 (581726)
        I wouldn't exactly call it rigorous. His sample size was so low that it really wasn't statistically significant. While he did make a point with it, mostly by planting the idea of small-world networks in the minds of other scientists, the experiment was not as big a deal as it was made out to be.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by edcheevy (1160545)
      Eventually it ought to, geocachers do the same thing with trackable items [geocaching.com]. :)
    • Re:Cute robot (Score:5, Interesting)

      by harry666t (1062422) <harry666t&gmail,com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:19PM (#27545261)
      I was on a walk today. I bought a notebook and a pen, and I spent time writing anonymous, open letters or drawing things whenever I had to wait for the traffic lights to change. When I was heading back home, I began giving some of those letters and drawings to random people on the street. Some people were surprised, some didn't want to take the piece of paper (maybe thought it was just a flyer). I think I'm going to do that again.
    • by acidrain (35064)
      Would it ever get there? I'm going to try it tonight. Hey, that way you might even get lucky... tonight.
    • by fractoid (1076465)
      This is what I was thinking. If you skip all the horrible pseudo-technical artist talk, the experiment is really saying "would people, on average, point a crude cardboard approximation of a tourist in the right direction?" Not that it's not an interesting concept; I'd like to see it repeated with various 'tourists', like your postcard, a fluffy stuffed toy, a cardboard box etc. I wonder if the fact that the robot was "trying" to reach its destination would have made people more sympathetic?
    • Re:Cute robot (Score:5, Interesting)

      by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:08AM (#27547357) Homepage
      P.G. Wodehouse (author of the Jeeves novels, amongst other things) used to write his letters, stamp and address them, and then throw them out the window on the pavement. His theory was that anyone finding such a letter would simply pop it in the nearest post-box; which apparently, they did. He claimed never to have lost a letter this way.
  • Uhm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GMThomas (1115405) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:40PM (#27545051) Homepage
    I can't imagine this being entirely safe. What if someone points it where it rolls out into the middle of a busy intersection, and somebody slams on their brakes or swerves to avoid it, causing an accident or hitting a pedestrian?
    • Re:Uhm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15@ g m a i l .com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:56PM (#27545129)

      Well, life in general isn't entirely safe.

    • I can't imagine this being entirely safe. What if someone points it where it rolls out into the middle of a busy intersection, and somebody slams on their brakes or swerves to avoid it, causing an accident or hitting a pedestrian?

      By this logic, people should never take their children outdoors ever.

    • Collateral damage by that driver would be terrible, however, if that sort of driver were to perish, then the death would be akin to those who slam on the brakes for a small group of geese that crowded into a cloverleaf onramp: it's us or the animals, you idiot! In New York, the traffic is so bad, I doubt slamming on the brakes is even a meaningful phrase anymore. Boston, on the other hand, that's just a way to pick a fight with the guy behind you.

      I generally hope that no tweenbot perishes, for the sake

    • by db32 (862117)
      Uhm...I imagine it is hard for the observer to be observing what people are doing with the bots if the observer is not also there to prevent this kind of scenario through observation and intervention...

      Somehow I doubt they are going to be furiously scribbling in their notebook... "Subject lead the bot into traffic at which point a driver swerved and ran over a baby buggy. Then the mother of the baby pulled a gun and started shooting people at random in a fit of grief. Then the police came and were able
    • by ndogg (158021)

      That was the point, and exactly what she expected, but that's not what happened.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      A safe life is a boring life.

      I don't sky dive or bungy jump, but I have noticed a trend to "make the world safe" that is sucking all the fun out of it. Kid's play grounds have nothing even remotely exicting in them any more. My kids were the last generation to get to slide down 20 meter slides, 4 meter fireman's poles, swings with wooden seats, any play ground exipment over 2 meters high.

      The Apollo 1 deaths did not stop the Apollo mission. Space exploration is dangerous, deaths were expected. Now, the

  • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15@ g m a i l .com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:44PM (#27545079)

    In New York (some 20 years ago) I was surprised by how nice and helpful the people are in the street. If I just pulled out a map to have a look at it, people would stop and ask if they could help me.

    I doubt these robots would survive and reach their destinations in Paris, for example. But it would be interesting to try. I may be wrong.

    (I live neither in Paris nor in NY, and am neither French nor American)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordKaT (619540)

      I think some of the helpfulness you run into in NYC is also partially due to people living here long enough to be lost themselves. I know for a fact that this city can be downright confusing and you can lose your sense of direction pretty easily - especially if you're coming up from the Subway.

      Of course, that train of logic usually only applies to Manhattan island. Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx each tend to be their own different story.

      But I think the truth is that most people in the world,

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        I've been to NYC a few times and I find it amazing that people can get lost in Manhattan since its basically one huge grid. Did these people fail 6th grade geometry?

        "I have to go two blocks West and then four blocks North! I'M LOST!"

        • by story645 (1278106)

          I've been to NYC a few times and I find it amazing that people can get lost in Manhattan since its basically one huge grid.

          All the long time city dwellers I know who don't live/hang out in the village/downtown area get lost 'cause all the streets get names instead of numbers and it becomes one big mess. A lot of street names also change/streets disappear uptown. I get totally lost if I don't pay attention when getting out of a train station, 'cause without the subway signpost, I don't know if I'm going in the right direction 'til I hit the next street. East-West is worse for anyone who doesn't much wonder out of their neighborh

        • by LordKaT (619540)

          The major problem is trying to traverse the city. Yes, you COULD walk from 57th to 42nd, but damn that's one hell of a walk.

          So, you decide to take mass transit. Now, where is the subway station? Where does that train go? Why don't the trains follow the same grid pattern?

          Just because Manhattan has a grid pattern doesn't mean that newcomers won't get lost.

    • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:23PM (#27545283)

      If I had to guess, in Paris it would depend on the language the directions were written in:

      English - it'd be damaged and tossed in the garbage
      French - it'd arrive at its destination with a baguette, cigarette in its mouth, and have lipstick in interesting areas
      German - it'd arrive along with a letter of French surrender

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I doubt these robots would survive and reach their destinations in Paris, for example. But it would be interesting to try. I may be wrong.

      If you keep the request for directions in English, then everyone will understand but you can be damn sure it'll never reach its destination.

      • From what I've heard, that's true. French people, by reputation, are incredibly intolerant of English speakers, particularly Americans. Americans are less bigoted towards the French than the French are towards Americans, from what I hear. Anyone have any anecdotes related to this?

        • by CdBee (742846)
          Hello thats coming from the US.. whose government invented the terms 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' and 'axis of weasel' to describe the FIRST NATION IN THE WORLD that became its ally? There was even a short campaign to repatriate the statue of liberty during the first GW Bush presidency
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by _Ludwig (86077)
            government invented the terms 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys'

            While Springfield Elementary is a public school -- technically making Groundskeeper Willie a government employee -- it's a bit of a stretch to say that "the government" invented that phrase.

    • by moosesocks (264553) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:33PM (#27545339) Homepage

      Both Parisians and New Yorkers get a bad rap. In my experience, as long as you accept a few cultural norms, the residents of both cities tend to be gracious and helpful.

      Firstly, you've got to understand that people in a city as large and dense as New York are going to appear somewhat impersonal at times...otherwise you'd collapse from sensory overload. However, beneath this facade, Similarly, for whatever reason, time on the subway is considered "private time," and it's generally frowned upon to talk loudly or make eye contact with strangers, etc. Perhaps an anthropologist or sociologist could chime in and suggest why this might be?

      New Yorkers, in my opinion, tend to be some of the most gracious and sympathetic city-dwellers I know of. Of course, traditions and dispositions tend to vary tremendously from borough to borough. I've been living in the south for the past few years, and have found "Southern Hospitality" to be largely a myth, apart from the initial friendly facade that people tend to put on -- at the very least, the northeast doesn't deserve the rap it gets from the rest of the country.

      Paris is somewhat similar. Parisians have a reputation for being rude and unfriendly to outsiders. I've visited the city three times, and have never observed this to be the case. I only speak a tiny bit of French, though this seems to be greatly appreciated. I could imagine being treated rudely if I didn't know any of the language (and rightfully so).

      In fact, there are very few cities I've visited that I've found to be outwardly oppressive.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Any location where the person cannot escape and people are crowded together so that invading each others personal space is usually considered private. The classic example of this is elevator cars, where it's been observed that two people boarding can be having a conversation outside the car, stop it while they're in the car, and resume it as soon as they get off. Often they don't even realize that they're doing it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by story645 (1278106)

        Similarly, for whatever reason, time on the subway is considered "private time," and it's generally frowned upon to talk loudly or make eye contact with strangers, etc.

        Dunno, maybe 'cause I just want to get to where ever I'm going and therefore don't feel like dealing with anyone? (Most people I know sleep/study/read/pray on the train-it's often the only time they actually get to themselves) Or 'cause the last guy who talked to me on the subway tried to scam me out of 300 dollars?

      • by dodobh (65811)

        As someone who lives in a city even more crowded than NYC, the subway thing is the same as in an elevator. You are being forced into someone else's personal space and the polite thing to do is to violate it as little as possible.

      • New Yorkers, in my opinion, tend to be some of the most gracious and sympathetic city-dwellers I know of. Of course, traditions and dispositions tend to vary tremendously from borough to borough. I've been living in the south for the past few years, and have found "Southern Hospitality" to be largely a myth, apart from the initial friendly facade that people tend to put on -- at the very least, the northeast doesn't deserve the rap it gets from the rest of the country.

        I agree, agree, agree!

        It's not just the South, though; it's also the Midwest. It seems that the South and the Midwest have a very ill-deserved reputation as being hospitable places. They aren't.

        I grew up in the Northeast (NY, PA) and truly, the level of "friendliness" compared to central VA, Iowa, Dakotas, and so on... it's off the charts.

        Like you said, the initial friendliness is there, but just don't stay there if you're not originally from there. You will be an Outsider (even in a more urban area), becau

        • Just out of curiosity, what exactly is a NE accent?

          There are a few regional accents, though it seems as though the majority of us do sound pretty much the same, which is odd, considering that UK accents can vary wildly within just a few miles. Jersey, coastal Virginia, and Alaska* all sound pretty much the same to me.

          There are a few pockets of people with absolutely ridiculous accents (Boston, Brooklyn, etc.), though these people are definitely the exception to the rule, even in the areas in which they liv

          • by CAIMLAS (41445)

            Well, compared to the Midwest, the Northeast dialect is very "clipped". It's faster; words will sometimes run together. The approach to communication is also much more direct: even men will make more direct eye contact, talking about issues (instead of, say, the weather) is more common, and the people are generally more relational.

      • "Hospitality" is that which is extended to guests. As you're not a guest any more, you get what Southerners call "family treatment". This means no special dispensations at dinner, the couch upstairs to sleep on, etc. You'd think a sophisticated urban resident could use his superior intellect to discern the difference, but I guess not!
    • I live in NYC (not a native) and it's true that New Yorkers are friendly-- I think in part due to the fact that so many of us aren't natives. I know that I'm inclined to be helpful when I see someone who needs directions and things because I know how tough it can be to get around when you aren't familiar with the city. Also, I think that so many people living in a relatively small area leaves you with the pretty distinct sense that, "We have to find a way to get along, or this is really going to suck for

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      They let this robot loose in the middle of a park, where people are leisurely enjoying themselves. Of course people are going to help it. They should have put it down in the financial district, where it would have gotten sworn at, kicked, dropped in a gutter, then run over.

      Or maybe they could have put it down in Washington and gotten it a stimulus.
      • I wouldn't say that. Seems like every shot in the video shows someone walking by and stopping to help, not people lounging on park benches and taking some of their leisure time to stand up and tinker with the cute robot. The video does show about 3 of the 42 minutes of the journey, so there's probably selection bias, but there are still obviously plenty of people who took a minute out of traveling time to help it, not just leisure time.
  • unbelievable (Score:4, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:45PM (#27545081) Homepage Journal

    Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the âoerightâ direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation.

    I'd have lost that bet. Maybe I'm too cynical.

    But the one example they showed was entirely within a city park. I can't imagine this working in the city, the odds of it getting ran over would have to approach 1:1 most other places.

    I wonder if the sidewalk it was traveling down (to the south) had a physical barrier blocking it from going further south? (toward traffic) In that respect I would expect the locations were carefully chosen to minimize risk.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's a pretty fascinating result, isn't it? While these little cardboard 'bots can only operate in a relatively safe environment (they'd be easy to step on and claim it was an accident) it makes me wonder how complex a robot could be and still receive useful assistance.

      • Re:unbelievable (Score:4, Interesting)

        by v1 (525388) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @06:56PM (#27545133) Homepage Journal

        I bet they are as basic as it gets, they probably bought one of those $19 radio shack remote control cars, you know the ones with a single button remote that makes it back up while turning the wheel, removed the shell, (or maybe not!) and put the cardboard top on it. Probably the biggest challenge was making sure the batteries would last the duration of the test. That one was what, 40-some minutes, that's a long time for a pair of C batteries.

        I suppose they could have extended battery life by simply removing the receiver altogether since it was unnecessary.

        I bet they would have gotten even better results by adding a push sensor bumper on the front, that when it hit something it would make a little pathetic squeak or something. That would add a whole new angle to the analysis and anthropomorphize it one step more by appealing more to the public's sense of pity. (or annoyance I suppose) Might do the same with a tilt sensor so it would also sound pathetic if it tipped over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Quothz (683368)

      I wonder if the sidewalk it was traveling down (to the south) had a physical barrier blocking it from going further south? (toward traffic)

      From the photos and Google Maps, it looks like it's partially separated from the road by fenced trees and shrubbery, but there's wide gaps where the road is accessible. It seems the lil' fellow did nearly go on a journey of discovery into traffic at one point:

      One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, "You can't go that way, it's toward the road."

  • Won't people steal this? I would if I saw a cute little robot on the street!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kkrajewski (1459331)

      My first reaction was actually that it was so adorable that I'd run it all the way to its destination.

    • by SnowZero (92219)

      Won't people steal this? I would if I saw a cute little robot on the street!

      Perhaps she put a color printout of the goatse image on the underside of the robot, along with the text "PUT ME DOWN"? That would probably work pretty well as an anti-theft device.

  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:25PM (#27545293)
    Who read "tweenbots" in the title and thought it was some new type of botnet which infected kids toy pre-school computers or some web 2.0 corporate invented term for a botnet created by a tweeny-scripter? Here I thought Windows was bad enough that kids can cause havok, now the starting age has dropped even further? All I heard was 19 by Paul Hardcastle with altered lyrics:

    "In 1999 the average age of a Windows hacker was 19, in 2009 it's 9."
  • by gringofrijolero (1489395) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:27PM (#27545301) Journal

    ...if you put a squeegee and a tin can in its claw?

  • by TooMad (967091) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:35PM (#27545347)
    Before the first bot was mugged.
  • Oblig... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Argumentator (1524195) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:40PM (#27545371)

    1. Make a sad-faced robot carrying a coin jar.
    2. Give it a sign saying "Brother, can you spare a quarter so I can buy a new battery?"
    3. ???
    4. PROFIT!

    • The funny thing is that despite me being unwilling to give money to human panhandlers, I would probably drop a coin into a robot like that. I think I'm just more sympathetic to robots.
  • by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @08:59PM (#27545685)

    It's quite possible that the primary reason most of those people stopped to aid it was because of their fascination and the uniqueness of it. Had it not been something that stood out dramatically from the expected, I suspect it would have received little attention and even less help.

    It likely demonstrates very little of a social nature at all.

  • by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @09:07PM (#27545711) Journal

    any number of software releases. Thrown to the publics' mercy, unready for the real world, totally dependent on someone else's goodwill to succeed.

  • New Term (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @10:36PM (#27545995) Homepage Journal

    I predict a new term will raise to popularity from this: eRoadKill

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:12PM (#27546115)

    4chan loves kittens. NYC may display helpful benevolence towards these little dudes, that shouldn't be taken to mean anything other than that as a whole NYC has a soft spot for cute small robots.

  • These little guys would be totally fucked in Cairo.
  • I would love to see what would happen if he didn't draw a smiley face. If he drew a grumpy or mean face on the robot, would people direct it into traffic?

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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