Carnegie Mellon’s Robot Census

Photo by Celia Ludwinski, Carnegie Mellon Tartan Photo Editor.

Meanwhile, in other robot news today, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Institute is taking time off from her interactive robot theater projects to perform a “robot census” of every ‘bot at her institution.

Student Heather Knight, whom the Carnegie Mellon Tartan says “is interested in making interactive theater productions featuring people and acting robots, in which an audience can teach robots how to be more like humans,” was inspired to undertake this offering after wrestling with the complicated grad student problem of choosing a research adviser. “It’s like, how can you choose your adviser if you don’t know what robots they have?” she told the Tartan. I remember asking myself the same question in my undergrad days — and I was a History major. Knight launched the “Carnegie Mellon 2010 Robot Census” to correspond with this year’s US Census, perhaps in hopes of creating a Harmonic Robot Convergence that will soon have us bowing to our future Robot Overlords.

So how many damn robots roam the halls at Carnegie Mellon, anyhoo? The answer might surprise you. Knight found 460 ‘bots “and counting” at Carnegie Mellon, a tentative number for the in-progress survey that, at press time, is thirty-eight-point-three times the number of followers at the Robot Census Twitter Account. Hell’s bells, why is it so hard to get ‘bots motivated to join social networks? It’s your education, geniuses. Get off your lazy alloy cans, will ya?

The robots documented by Knight range from “a single spinning wheel that can traverse rough terrain” to “artbots, like artist Golan Levin’s interactive eye,” and “snakebots…some of which can climb tree trunks.” One computer science professor, Manuela Veloso, gets the Robot Gold Star, with a total of 116 robots listed. But the Tartan readers’ fave robot is sure to be the one we all know best (“we” being all Carnegie-Mellon students, of course): “Marion ‘Tank’ LeFleur, roboceptionist of Newell-Simon Hall.”

Those Pittsburgh cats have robo-freakin’-ceptionists?

All right, then, smartasses. Where’s my flying car?

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