Robots are going to college, to get more knowledge.
There’s a new pack of visitors touring the campus at The University of Texas at Austin: robots.
And it turns out the point is for the robots to get smarter.
The university will soon host delivery-bearing autonomous robots controllable by app, according to local outlet MySA.
The robot project is a collaboration between robotics companies Boston Dynamics and Unitree, as well as academics, the school said in a press release. The project began in September 2021 and involved creating the type of robot that would run around campus. But, it’s hitting a new phase.
“The researchers plan a five-year study focusing on what it takes to create, safely operate and maintain this kind of robot network, while also adapting with the humans who live and work around it,” the school wrote.
It will begin early next year. Besides being useful in research, it will be a bonafide, useful delivery network, according to the release, and will first deploy at the beginning of next year.
The robots will do things like deliver hand sanitizer and wipes or offer them to people walking around in specific “pedestrian zones,” the release continued.
One of Boston Dynamic’s robots, Spot, looks like this, per a launch video from 2019:
These robots are “autonomous,” meaning they can move around on their own power, but they will be closely monitored.
“In later phases of the research, the robots will go out in teams of two, monitored both by chaperones and people remotely. This means researchers will always have the ability to stop the robots if necessary,” the school wrote.
Courtesy UT Austin.
The data is being collected and analyzed by a team of researchers from multiple schools at the University. It is headed, however, by Luis Sentis of UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering.
“Robotic systems are becoming more ubiquitous,” he said in the release.
“In addition to programming robots to perform a realistic task such as delivering supplies, we will be able to gather observations to help develop standards for safety, communication, and behavior to allow these future systems to be useful and safe in our community,” Sentis added.