Servo Magazine ( March 2017 )

What’s Your Robot Type?

By Bryan Bergeron    View In Digital Edition  

Dog owners are known for selecting a breed with the temperament or personality similar to their own. Based on my experience, I’d go so far as to say that some dog owners even look like their pets. This self-selection behavior makes sense, as most of us like things and people that resemble ourselves. I’m not sure what it reveals about my character, but I’m partial to black labs.

Given the association we have with our pets, it’s reasonable to assume that at least some of us prefer robots with particular personalities or even looks. Granted, the sample sizes are small because there isn’t as wide of a variety of robot types available in the general consumer market, but some associations seem self-evident.

For example, take the owner of a combat bot. I envision a risk taker, someone a little outrageous in their dress, and someone ready to get down and dirty in the machine shop. Then, there’s the owner of an ultra-miniature carpet crawler: a detail-oriented thoughtful type who is more comfortable with a CAD package than with a drill press.

It goes on from here, with personalities mapped to quadcopters and other drones, underwater vehicles, and specialized search and rescue robots.

It might seem like an exercise in silliness, but when it comes to social robots, bonding does matter. It’s been shown that the elderly are much more apt to take on a robot designed to monitor their wellbeing if it takes the form of a cuddly seal, for example. Similarly, patients have been shown to more readily accept diagnostic robots when the live video of their physician’s head appears on the display that serves as the robot’s head.

Fact is, just as with our pets and other people, we have a need to connect with our robots, cars, cell phones, and other devices.

As the number and types of robots increases, I’m sure that our innate preferences will become obvious to the marketing departments of robotics companies, as well as fellow robotics enthusiasts.

Do you already self-identify with a particular type or model of robot? Do you relate best to crafts that move on the ground or glide through the sky? I’m more of a quadcopter type these days, but there’s always a next new kind of robot on the horizon. Maybe I’m just always looking for the next new greatest thing.

I suppose a little self-awareness never hurt anyone.  SV

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