Phobot wins!

Meet Phobot, the winner of the Human-Robot Interaction Conference ’08 Lego Student Design Competition! Phobot overcame its stage fright and we won! Yay!

Phobot is a anxious robot and a concept designed to help kids confront and overcome fears. Basically we wanted to build an affective robot, which both provided and needed a service from a human user (within the constraints of one box of Lego).

The affective qualities of Phobot, its ‘aaaaaawh’ factor and the excessive consumption of caffeine on our part definitely won the crowd. We even beat the Carnegie Mellon team’s artsy, abstract flower interaction robot (including its amazing origami).

Lots of press around too. Guess the only way to become famous is to abandon all serious work and start playing, sounds pretty good to me 😉

Another cutesy highlight of the conference was Keepon. I got the chance to play around with the little Japanese bot together with other PhD’ers at a Young Researchers Workshop. Cute, small, yellow and squeezable, awh..

Overall, the HRI’08 was very interesting. We heard about people bonding with robot vacuum cleaners (yes, they do!). We saw lots of cool android movies and unmanned vessels, but also heard about the dark side of robotics. Interesting thoughts on responsibility, ethics and how we as researchers cannot simply ignore the implications of our work. Thought-provoking.

I got lots of inspiration, but now I finally need to get some sleep.