Final Project: RoboBlockade

Assignment,Final Project — jbedford @ 12:46 pm

This Project is a robot restructuring the area of a space to be a hinderance to human traffic. The intervention is to see peoples reactions about a perceived autonomous robot causing discourse.

Location: UC Black Chairs.
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The UC Black Chair are a common communal area. There 20 cushioned chairs, 6 plants, 2 trashcans and 2 stairwell.

Time: Tuesday May 14th 3:00 – 7:00. Wednesday 1:30 – 4:30.

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70 pound cylinder robot capable of pushing aside heavy objects. robot is puppeteered from far away with remote and vision system. Audience is unaware of TeleOp control.

The Strategy: Block entrances ways, doorways and stairways with the plants, chairs and trash cans.
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This will see if people react to the hinderance and try to reset the area, or just ignore the blockade and move on.

“Robots allow you to do things you wouldn’t do”

Robots are semi invisible to people. Bystanders assume robot is infallible and executing it task. If robot is doing something strange, spectates assume it to be a bug in the program or error. But the robot itself is never wrong.

Due to this infallible mask. I able able to cause discourse is a public space without receiving backlash or punishment of any sort.


When robot first attempted to move chair, people found it to be entertaining and laughable. During operation, robot would continually hit chair to move it, making a large noise. It would then precisely angle it with little nudges until block was properly positioned. Robot successfully blocked first entrance with chair and plant. People did not stop the robot. People did not remove blockade, neither did the custodians. Flow of traffic through that entrance did stop. But there were two other entrances people could easily use, so the discourse had not yet reached a level of inconvenience.

When Robot successful blocked all three entrances, spectators would first try to reset chairs, then impede the robot, and then eventual turn off robot all together. Robot is now a nuisance to society, both in impeding traffic and noise pollution. (Many onlookers evacuated the area  due to the robots loud operations.) The robot, first perceived as innocent, is now deem a menace and hence is executed by public.

Changing the architecture of a space:
Robot has power to change it’s environment. It is actively attempting to disrupt the natural flow.People tolerate this disruption until it becomes too much of an hinderances and then take action.

Intervention made it on CMU Overheard:
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