Thursday, May 14, 2009

of google maps and robots

just as it is difficult to imagine getting work done without email, finding your way around town without google maps is risky, at best. the old-fashioned way of navigation, interaction with the urban fabric and local populace, has been relegated to several mouse-clicks and a printed screen-shot. asking for directions is for old people. and robots. old people and robots.
a team of german scientists at the technical university of munich have programmed a robot to navigate an urban area to a destination one and a half kilometers away through human interaction. nicknamed ACE, for Autonomous City Explorer, the robot approaches a human target and subsequently displays a message on it's screen asking the human if it would like to help. If the passer-by chooses to help, the robot vocalizes it's current position and destination, and asks for directions to it's endpoint. the robot is programmed to scan the stance of the human target and recognize pointing and gestures. continuing it's data collection, the robot requests wayfinding tips through identification of landmarks and map input. as ACE continues to collect and analyze the data in it's system, the robot and generates a 3-dimensional real-time map of information.

data collected from New Scientist

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