May 3, 2009


I recently stumbled across an interesting article which reads “Tweenbot: An Experiment about Human Nature and Robots”.

What happened in this experiment that is conducted by a student from Tisch School of the Arts called Kacie Kinzer, is that she created a robot that will travel from one point to another, not using high tech sensors, GPS systems, or any other things that technology allows.

This robot, called Tweenbot, can only move in a straight line, and can only rely on the help of strangers, anyone that finds it, to guide it in the right direction, to its ending point.

Sounds easy?

This Tweenbot only has the ability to move forward, so it will just run into any obstacles in its way. Be it a curb, drain, pothole, the robot will just run into it and get stuck there. As quoted from Kacie’s site “Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, “You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”

Youtube link on Tweenbot

How touching is that?

Even though it is just a piece of cardboard with wheels, it is amazing to see how many people actually took noticed, and gave a helping hand in assisting this cute robot on its journey.

Quoted from Gizmodo, “I don’t know about you guys, but I like to think this project says more about the state of our nation than that stupid negative-nancy stock market.”

Ok, so this is an experiment done in New York. I wonder what will happen if this experiment is done right here in Singapore. Most probably the poor cardboard figure will be ignored by many, sitting there stuck in the pothole, waiting for a kind soul to save it. Many will take notice; some will even take some time out to see whether anyone will go help the little fella out. But most will feel stupid helping out a small little toy get to its location, and will just leave it in the situation where it is already. I believe, personally, if I ever see this thing rolling down the streets of Singapore, I will pull out my camera phone, take a photo of it, maybe another with me in the picture as well. But that’s all. No lifting it up and setting it on the right course. Not even a little nudge from my shoe.

Is this what we are made up of? Is it a Singaporean thing? Many, at first glance, will most probably be thinking of how cute it is, and what is it. Maybe some kind souls will actually help it out a little. But majority of the crowd would rather be absorbed in their own world, not stopping to give assistance to the helpless.

They would turn a blind eye to it. As long as it’s not in their way, rolling across their toes, life goes on as per normal. Living in oblivion, letting things past by you without so much as to stop and stare. And if something gets in your way, even if it’s a Tweenbot, you would just circle around it and let it past.

It’s none of your business anyway.

Is it? 🙂

Credits to MR.B



2 Responses to “Tweenbots”

  1. dan Says:

    interesting take on it… isnt that so true… singaporeans.. their curiousity.. their love for being captured in the moment.. their pride in themselves keeping them from reaching out… worry about being their real self…

    amazing how one small experiment tells us so much bouot our culture…

    thanks for sharing!! 😀

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