While I was contemplating my snow-shoveling duties last weekend, I was intrigued to stumble across a New York Times piece about a quiet acquisition made by Google. Apparently, the company now owns Boston Dynamics, which makes robots that are being designed to run faster than humans.
Boston Dynamics’ walking robots have a reputation for being extraordinarily agile, able to walk over rough terrain and handle surfaces that in some cases are challenging even for humans.
The speculation is that Google is trying to build autonomous systems that could handle everything from package delivery to eldercare. It already has been playing around with self-driving cars for years. A video of a test drive is below.
This all got me thinking about a study by research firm Latitude I squirreled away almost 11 months ago exploring how children perceive robots. Called Robots @ School, the research was published in collaboration with LEGO Learning Institute and Project Synthesis. It surrounds the central question: “What if robots were a part of your everyday life — at school and beyond?”
Among the findings:
- Nearly two-thirds of the participating children perceived robots as potential human friends, “humanoid peers that they could identify with and aspire to be like.”
- When asked to imagine what their robots would be like, many of the children imagined ones that would be “patient and supportive” teachers. And they viewed robots both as potential playmates and study buddies.