SXSW Debuts Robot Petting Zoo
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blabdroid robot petting zoo
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The 2015 SXSW (which really should be ‘SxSW’ as it stands for South by Southwest) is offering a “robot petting zoo” (hashtag #RoboPetZoo) featuring adorable (and not so adorable) robots with names like Blabdroid, Ozobot, and Dar-1 (say it fast).

So, why a bot petting zoo? Explains South by Southwest, “The first ever SXSW Robot Petting Zoo brings out friendly ground & aerial robots for SXSW attendees to touch, operate, and even program,” adding that “robot handlers will explain how robots have done – and have potential to do – incredible work in disaster before setting kindly humans loose to interact, learn, and play. Spatially-oriented humans will get to play with robots whose functions mimic those of humans.”


Our favourites are by far Blabdroid and Ozobot, both because they are cute (Blabdroid), and because of what they do (Ozobot).

Blabdroid
blabdroid robot petting zoo

But Blabdroid’s cute appearance belies some pretty sophisticated innards. And that is, in fact, by design.

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As Blabdroid’s creater, Alexander Reben, explains in an NPR interview, “In a relationship with a robot, where you’re being very vulnerable, the other actor in that situation has to be as vulnerable as you. So if the robot is small, tiny, made out of cardboard, you kind of feel like you can open up to him more because he’s very familiar and you feel like you’re in control of that situation.”

What Reben is referring to by “being volunerable” is that Blabdroid was created specifically to delve into your psyche, asking probing questions, and researching and noting how humans may open up to a robot in a way they would not to a human stranger (part of the so-called ELIZA effect).

Ozobot
ozobot ozo bot petting zoo

 

What is so cool about Ozobot is that you can program it with color. Yes, that’s right, you program Ozobot by drawing on plain old white paper, with plain old markers, and Ozobot will follow your directions.

ozobot color markers

There are also apps for Ozobot that will work on your iPad or Android tablet, or, even, your iPhone or Android phone.

ozobot on tablet ipad

Ozobot, which retails for just $49 on the Ozobot website, was designed to help children learn about programming in a fun, interactive way.

If you made it to the robot petting zoo, let us know what your favourite robot was!

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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SXSW Debuts Robot Petting Zoo
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SXSW Debuts Robot Petting Zoo
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SXSW is offering a "robot petting zoo" (hashtag #RoboPetZoo) featuring adorable robots with names like Blabdroid, Ozobot, and Dar-1 (say it fast).
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