Don’t get me wrong: I love people. But robots? Well, let’s just say that they occupy a special place in my technocentric memory banks brain. To me, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are as valid an embodiment of the buddy duo dynamic as Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Batman and Robin, Laverne and Shirley, Cheech and Chong, Cagney and Lacey, Penn and Teller, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Hall and Oates, Holmes and Watson, Ren and Stimpy, and Chan and Tucker! Sure, droids have a difficult time as perpetually put-upon, second-class citizens in the sprawling, star-lit expanse of the Star Wars galaxy, but at least these two have each other.
Now I’m not going to declare myself as worthy of such friendship with the artificially intelligent, but I’m certainly not above extending my hand at an attempt to bridge our respective species and come to an understanding somewhere in the middle. I think we each have a unique perspective of the universe we share; and if I’m wrong, your average robot is polite enough not to make a scene about it. Then again, at this point in the game, I suppose it all depends on how it’s been programmed. Robots on 21st century Earth aren’t quite as advanced as the droids from Star Wars (never mind that they were built and programmed “a long time ago” and might still be out there somewhere for all we know); still, I think the time is now for us to forge a healthy, mutually benevolent relationship with our automated creations that may, one day, be our overlords.
I just hope they’re nice overlords. Maybe that’s why I believe in showing robots respect. Mostly because it’s kind, but also… just in case.
I’ve kept this in mind while playing around with the Ozobot, a spherical little (1″ x 1″ x 1″) robot who fits, ever so adorably, in the palm of my hand. Sure, it (we’re not acquainted well enough for me to assume Ozobot’s gender) may be a tiny package, but it’s got big ambitions. Billed as “the world’s smallest SMART robot,” Ozobot uses free iOS and Android apps to play along with the humans in its life. It can run on two-dimensional tracks (either the ones you’ll find in the box when you unpack Ozobot or ones you create yourself — as demonstrated in the video above) like a sophisticated, hobo-free train. These tracks can be very simple, or they can be color-coded to instruct Ozobot to behave in a certain way when it discovers them in its travels. They can be scrawled on paper if you’re some kind of wasteful, tree-clobbering neanderthal, or elegantly traced along the surface of your tablet — your choice! Ozobot doesn’t judge.
I can see this spirited little robot as a good way for a child — or even a beginning programmer — to wrap their brains around machines and how they process logic. But even if you get one with no educational aims in mind, at the very least, you’ll never be one of those sad sacks who sits around the dive bar all day and laments to anyone within unlucky earshot that they never had fun with a robot.
And while I admittedly haven’t tried running Ozobot’s battery down to point of failure (forcing it to endure the robotic equivalent of starvation and exhaustion seems counter to the aforementioned ideal of “showing respect”), I’m told that it can run for 60 full minutes on a physical surface or twice as long on a digital surface before requiring a recharge — which makes Ozobot more like me than I realized.
As yet, Ozobot hasn’t locked me out of any pod bay doors, so I’m optimistic about our future together.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of getting a whole robot in your hand, you can get your very own Ozobot here, or learn more about the amazing things that Ozobot can do at the official site!
If you’d like to enter Ozobot’s #Lucky7 giveaway for a chance at valuable treasures like a Polaroid 300 instant camera PIC-300L and Polaroid 300 film 10 pack (PIF-300); a GoPro Hero; an Apple iPhone 6 (space gray, 16 GB); a Crosley CR8005A-TU Cruiser portable turntable (turquoise); Beats by Dre Solo 2 on- ear headphones (black); a Nabi 24″ tablet; or an iPad Air, go to the entry page here (on Facebook via Rafflecopter) and follow the instructions:
Then, complete your entry in one of three ways:
1. If you use Twitter, tweet out a pre-drafted message that includes @Ozobot and announces your entry to your followers. Example: “I just entered @Ozobot’s #Lucky7 giveaway! Prizes include an #iPhone6, a #GoPro, #BeatsbyDre and more! Enter today!”
2. Subscribe to the Ozobot mailing list.
3. Enter a valid Ozobot serial number.