ACE asks you for directions

ACE asks you for directions

Postby Markus Waibel on 22 May 2009, 09:07

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich have developed a mobile robot that interacts with pedestrians to find its way through a city. The robot – called ACE for Autonomous City Explorer – lacks an inbuilt map or a GPS system. Instead, like a lost human in a similar situation, it will stop passer-bys and ask them for directions. It then uses posture recognition software to understand the direction in which a person is pointing and continues on its path.

In a first test researchers dumped ACE outside the university and instructed it to find its way to the Marienplatz in the centre of Munich, some 1.5 kilometers away. 38 helpful pedestrians and 5 hours later ACE had reached its destination.

While this may seem slow, the researchers comment that the robot advanced rapidly until it reached Munich's pedestrian zone, where it's popularity proved an unexpected obstacle to rapid progress.

For more infos, have a look at the project leader's homepage, check out this video or have a look at the NewScientist article.
ACE robot will ask you for directions to navigate Munich
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Markus Waibel
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Re: ACE asks you for directions

Postby RobotGrrl on 24 Aug 2009, 15:27

I remember listening to this, and I can't help but wonder what would happen if it appeared more sociable? Furthermore, what if there were more social cues, like walking around in a circle?
It would be an interesting study in sociable robotics to see how much the appearance matters, as well as the social cues!
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Re: ACE asks you for directions

Postby Johnny 5 on 24 Aug 2009, 15:57

Agreed ...

The ACE research page lists human-robot interaction as a key research area.

Guess we should ask Andrea Bauer that question ... :)
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Re: ACE asks you for directions

Postby Johnny 5 on 25 Aug 2009, 17:04

Here's what Andrea thinks:

We are planing on doing more experiments, also in cooperation with researchers from Salzburg, who are interested in social acceptance of robots in public.
I'm not sure what you mean by walking around in a circle. However we are planing on having the robot approach humans in a humanlike way, that is copy and adapt trajectories from humans approaching humans in similar situations.
As for the appearance, we are trying to improve it but not to find the perfect design, as we are engineers. Of course, there is a lot of literature on the topic and a favorable design would surely support people's willingness to interact with the robot.


Thanks for the news! Looking forward to the new research ... :)
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