Thursday, April 30, 2009


This is just about one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.

Kacie Kinzer (a student at Tisch ITP in New York) set out to explore the nature of movement and people's preoccupation with getting from one place to another. Kacie raises the question, "Could a human-like object traverse sidewalks and streets along with us, and in so doing, create a narrative about our relationship to space and our willingness to interact with what we find in it?" An extremely bold question in my opinion, and one that I wouldn't think was easily answered. To make things even more complicated, Kacie takes it a step further, asking, "How could our actions be seen within a larger context of human connection that emerges from the complexity of the city itself?"

Where to start? What to do?

Simple (in Kacie's mind at least) - build a robot.

To answer these questions, Kacie conceived the Tweenbots. Human-dependent robots that navigate through the help of the pedestrians they encounter. The robot itslef will move at a constant speed and in a straight line. The only indication of their mission is a flag baring their destination. After that it's up to those around to help them.

Would you trust strangers minding their own business to stop and help a robot? Considering the dangers that the robot would face it's seems impossible that it would get more then 15m (imho). Never-the-less Kacie placed the Tweenbot down on the path, walked away and set it on it's journey.

Surprisingly as it turned out, over the course of several months and numerous journeys, the Tweenbots successfully got from their starting point to their designated destinations. Although there were instances of a bots getting caught under park benchs, stuck against a curb, or trapped in a pothole, there was always a random passerby who would rescue it and send it toward its destination.

Not a single Tweenbot was lost or damaged. Brilliant stuff - perhaps even a sign that human nature isn't that bad?

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