Gloombot

A robot that is just gloomy, nothing more...

Keywords:

Industrial Design

Graduation project

Internet of Things

Smart products

Artificial Intelligence

Design concept

Gloombot is an eerie looking robot. It is a castaway from society with no purpose left, so it prefers solitude above anything.

Gloombot is the answer to the question ‘How does a robot act when it is gloomy?’.

If you approach it, it will first act dismissive by turning its head. When that does not make you leave it alone, it will go away. And if you trap it in a corner it will protest and struggle; it really just wants to be left alone.

Aim of the course

Gloombot is the result of the course Integrated technology Design, as part of the Design for Interaction master at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. The aim of this course is to create an experienceable interaction as an answer to a given design-question. To achieve this the course requires a team of students to do a lot of fast iterations with a ‘making first’-approach.

Context of the assignment

In our future society, more and more people will mingle with robots. Robots will be used in healthcare settings and in factories where they can take on human and non-human-like forms. We need to communicate and collaborate with these different kinds of robots. Robots need to learn how to interact with each other in the presence of other people.

Our group was tasked with designing a robot to investigate how it behaves and interacts with others when it is ‘gloomy’.

We were asked explicitly to create a non-humanoid robot, so that the robot communicates its emotion solely through its behaviour, locomotion and appearance.

During this course I worked in a team of five people. Each team member had a specific role and I fullfilled the role of the engineer. It was my duty to focus on the mechanics and electronics of our prototypes.

Process

Starting with a concept

At the beginning of this project we discovered what should be the essence of our concept by tinkering low-tech prototypes. And we developed a clear vision on what this should look like by creating mock-ups of the robot’s responses to interacting with people.

One of the core features of the robot should be that it moves away from social contact.

During the course of this project we developed this essence into a concept by continually tweaking and adding layers to the behaviour and appearance.

Our end-goal

We created the envisioned embodiment and behaviour as a stand-alone responsive prototype. Making use of an Arduino board, the robot was programmed to use distance-sensors to scan its surroundings, a servo motor to look around and a steppermotor to move backward or forward.

Exhibition

To finish it all off, we also created a small backstory and ambiance for the robot to live in. This ambiance was experienceable during the final exhibition of this project.

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