University hosts robot census

The Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is hosting a robot census, counting 547 robots so far, including some that are currently in jail.

The programme is the brainchild of Heather Knight, a Ph.D student at CMU’s Robotics Institute.

Knight is particularly fond of robots and believes that they should be accounted for in a formal census. “As much as we’re here for the professors, we’re also here for the robots,” she said.

The census looks for all kinds of information, such as date of conception and birth, employment status, degrees of freedom, dominant sensors, modes of connectivity, degree of local intelligence, and primary language.

In fact, it even looks for the gender of the robot, which is not always easy to figure out. Knight revealed that two NavLab vehicles which can drive autonomously were declared as male “because they don’t even need to ask for directions.”

The survey shows that robots can be just as individual as humans, with part of it mentioning to discount robots in the Robot Armed Forces, robot nursing homes, jail, or detention centres. It was not entirely clear if these robots were incarcerated for going on murder spree or if they’re there to help keep humans locked up, but either way, Knight as already counted them.

“I want to use the data to understand our relationship with technology, pave the way for new applications, and re-brand the scope of robotics to include friendly everyday social machines,” Knight told CNet. “It’s a PR campaign for the friendly robot revolution.”

We were tempted to submit the TechEyeBot, which serves our hacks and hackettes beer and nuts, but we don’t want the RSPCR on our case. The last R stands for “Robots”.