I’ve always wanted a robotic butler. You know, like the personal service ‘bots in Woody Allen’s Sleeper. Except without the sexual harassment part. Turns out that a team of industrious scientists at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute have already built one. And this one delivers snacks! Sweet!
CMU’s Snackbot is a roving wheeled ‘bot who’s primary purpose is to roam the halls of the University’s buildings, delivering tasty treast to students and faculty. Snackbot not only drives around bringing snacks, he also brings plenty of goodwill, with a pleasant-sounding voice communication system and calm demeanor unlikely to be rattled by even the most demanding snack customer. He features a sophisticated “multi-sensor fusion algorithms” which let him understand where he’s going, navigate through crowds, and can autonomously learn new objects.
My only complaint is that all that he seems to be delivering in the video clip above is granola bars and souvenirs. What kind of snacks are those? Where are my Ding Dongs, Ring Dings, Big Wheels and King Dons? Even Snackbot’s early prototype delivered M&Ms, Twix and Oreos…
While Snackbot was designed for a nobler cause – studying human-robot interactions, bringing snacks to my office each day would be plenty reason for me to invest research dollars – as long as there are creme-filled snack cakes, that is.