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.