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(Almost) Everyone Likes a Helpful Trash Robot

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A trash barrel robot, controlled remotely by Cornell researchers, follows a janitor through the streets of Manhattan.

Several people voiced concerns about the cameras and public surveillance. Some raised middle fingers to the robots, and one person even knocked one over.

Credit: Wendy Ju

A study by Cornell University researchers found that the public responded well to two remote-controlled trash barrel robots installed at a Manhattan plaza, one for landfill waste and one for recycling.

The researchers found most people willingly handed over their trash to the robots.

The joystick-operated robots were outfitted with 360-degree cameras, which captured footage of people showing appreciation for the robots, helping them when they got stuck, moving obstacles out of their way, and even calling them over to pick up trash.

However, some were concerned about the cameras and public surveillance, and one individual knocked over one of the robots. The researchers plan to study public interactions with the robots in other locations.

From Cornell Chronicle
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