Someday, when droids walk among us, they’ll probably be polite pedestrians.
A new robot has the mobility of R2-D2 and the manners of C-3PO.
This knee-high, self-driving bot abides by social protocols as it weaves through foot traffic: keep right, pass left, respect others’ personal space. The machine, presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vancouver on September 25, paves the way for robots that could one day navigate sidewalks to make deliveries or transport people through hospital hallways.
Programming a polite mobile bot is different from designing a self-driving car, says Michael Everett, a mechanical engineer at MIT. Unlike the rigid rules of the road, “the rules that humans follow when they’re walking around are pretty loose.” Building a bot that’s light on its wheels among individuals with highly unpredictable paths is “a totally different