Jackrabbot – Social droid that can move in crowded spaces without mowing people

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One thing that robots couldn’t do (so far) was to conveniently walk through crowded human spaces, which comes very naturally to humans. Since, we are better at learning from observing or through experiences. A team from Stanford University is working on enabling robots to move alongside humans without intimidating with them. The team claims to have developed a droid, named Jackrabbot, that can navigate down streets without running into people coming from opposite direction.

The name Jackrabbot is derived from the jackrabbits visible hopping at Stanford’s campus. The droid looks similar to Disney character Wall-E and it moves on a wheeled base. Because robots are not good at smoothly walking through crowd and sharing pedestrian spaces with human, hence, the droids weren’t ready to be useful in social spaces. For instance, such droids, which are able to learn from observation to prevent repeating a mistake and learn to behave like humans do naturally.

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Talking to Inverse, Silvio Savarese, one of the team members, explained:

In order to do so, social robots have to understand human conventions and human etiquette. We actually don’t have those rules written down. Our goal in this project is to actually learn those rules automatically from observations, by observing how humans behave in these social spaces. The idea is to transfer those rules into robots.

Currently, the testing on this robot is being carried out in Stanford campus. The team will extract data from its movements, crashes, and other situations to make it better. The data will be used to create an algorithm to automatically learn pedestrian rules through observation. It’s not high-speed droid and can move at a speed of 5 miles per hour, which sound decent enough, especially when we are planning to put them in social spaces.

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The team assures that the final commercially available version of the Jackrabbot would be more amicable and adorable. For now, it’s an expensive deal to create one of these droids because of the complex programming and machinery. But the researchers suggest a commercial model, whenever available, would cost around $500.

If the team successfully enables droids to walk and behave like humans while in crowded social-spaces, droids would be replacing human-labor in operations like delivery of post, documents, objects, food etc.

Source: Daily Mail



Madan has been writing about eco-friendly gadgets and technologies for over 5 years now. He has an inclination for all things green and wonderful. He is a local social activist with a global vision. When not writing, Madan can be seen capturing the best of urban wildlife in his DSLR lens.

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