Robots and Food, the Perfect Pair? - Rise of the American Robots
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After two years of research, the collective expertise of 17 faculty members, the help of countless undergraduate and doctoral students, and a hefty budget, Professor Paul Rybski and his graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University's Human Robot Interaction Group were finally able to reveal their big creation: The Snackbot.
The Snackbot, with its clay-colored, gender-neutral face and purposely approachable demeanor, is outfitted with a $20,000 laser navigation system, sonar sensors, and a Point Grey Bumblebee 2 stereo camera that functions as the robot's eyes. Not too shabby.
At this private research university, the Snackbot was specifically designed to improve people's perceptions of robots, and to do that, the robot will gather information on how it interacts with people. According to the professor, everything from the height to the color of the robot was "carefully considered for maximum approachability." So, taking a cue from the robot chefs of Japan and their ability to disarm people by offering them sustenance, Rybski decided try the same approach. "We figured what better way to get people to interact with a robot than have it offer them food?" the professor said.
America's Snackbot is just one of the dozens of new robots designed to both serve and cook food, while also serving as good-will ambassadors for what can only be described as a more automated future. The focus on food may seem unusual to some, but as already pointed out, this is one of the most likely ways people will warm up to the idea of robots and change their perception of them.
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