Autonomous cars have to learn the rules of the road, but autonomous vehicles on the sidewalk aren’t so lucky. There isn’t a guidebook. So, the researchers at Stanford are teaching robots to anticipate the unwritten rules as they wheel around the School of Engineering.
“We tried to make it cute, so that people will be happy to share their space with this robot,” Alex Alahi, a post-doc researcher at Stanford told KCBS.
Alahi is part of a team working with a small robot they’ve named ‘Jackrabbot’ after the jackrabbits seen darting around campus.
Alahi says the robot doesn’t talk, much to the dismay of the students who have tried to engage it.
“We might need to add some voices just to please them,” Alahi said.
For now, researchers will create algorithms that will allow the robot to react appropriately to pedestrian traffic in the hopes the technology will allow impaired people to navigate crowded public spaces.