Researchers at the Stanford University School of Engineering are working on a prototype they call Jackrabbot, a “social robot” that seems like a cousin of R2-DT. It’s a charming little machine on wheels that wears a tie and a hat.

The idea is that the robot could learn to be social and understand human conventions, and eventually one day cruise around on its own, abiding by the complex, unwritten rules of how people move down sidewalks, for example. 

“We’re envisioning a new generation of robots, which can operate alongside humans, for instance in shopping malls, in train stations,” Silvio Savarese, an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University, said in a video introducing the robot.

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“We actually envision the idea of having robots that can be as lovable and amicable as possible, and therefore they don’t need to necessarily look like humans,” Savarese added. The robot’s name, Jackrabbot, came from the jack rabbits that hop around the Stanford campus. It's about three feet tall. 

But first the robot needs to learn human etiquette, which is the project’s current goal.

The robot has sensors to take in the world around it, and while it’s controlled by joystick in the video demonstration, Alexandre Alahi, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, said that the next generation of the robot would incorporate an algorithm they had created so that it could move around solo.

Eventually they hope that companies use these robots, which might cost around $500.

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