Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

What Could Go Wrong? Crime Fighting Robots Now Equipped with Self-Defense Instincts

Published on June 21, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment



Claire Bernish

Once thought to be too approachable for their own good — as in, able to efficaciously perform the tasks they’ve been designed to do — robots are now being programmed with self-defense capabilities.

Now, robots which, say, patrol for criminal or suspicious activity come with a blend of humanoid characteristics and self-defense programs which prevent them from being perceived as too cute — or too menacing.

“Because of all the doomsday scenarios people imagine with robots, their makers have to insert some cuteness,” explained Golden Krishna, a designer with Alphabet’s Google, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“When humans see a robot that doesn’t have eyes,” said Rodolphe Gelin, SoftBank Group Corp. robotics unit chief scientific officer, “they think it doesn’t care about them.”

That perception — however Orwellian it might sound — can be detrimental to a robot’s ability to function on the job in the presence of humans.

After several failed design attempts to find the appropriate balance between relatable and threatening — and a number of incidents in which robots faced ‘abuse’ or ‘assault’ by humans — newer robots employ self-defense capabilities.

One incident of, well, ‘roboticide’ occurred with the failed experiment of HitchBOT. This cylindrical robot with an LED smile was dropped off on the roadside to see how if robots could “depend on people”  — but the experiment came to an abrupt halt when HitchBOT “was found decapitated in Philadelphia last summer,” the WSJ noted.

“While the project showed that they can indeed trust humans,” HitchBOT’s creators said generally of robots, “there are also exceptions to the rule.”

Experts on the interaction between humans and their new mechanical counterparts observed “robot abuse” in action in Okinawa, Japan, in 2014, when robots designed to assist the elderly in purchasing groceries came under attack by children, who kicked it, beat it with a bottle and bent its neck.

“The robot said ‘Someone help me!’ and Ouch, that hurt,” said researcher, Dražen Bršcic, with ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communications Laboratories, as cited by the WSJ. “But it didn’t stop the children.”

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. I know that street and they will need all the help they can get

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