Boxie is an adorable toddler videographer

Meet Boxie. He’s a robot videographer with levels of interaction we haven’t seen outside an episode of Dora the Explorer. The project was conceived by [Alex] as his MIT thesis project to see if robots can use humans to make themselves more useful. All we know is Boxie is freaking adorable, as evidenced by this video.

The idea behind Boxie was inspired by Afghan Explorer to capture video in an attempt to tell a story. In the videos (after the break), Boxie wanders around the halls of MIT searching for people to help him (“can you carry me up the stairs?”) and tell stories (“what do you do here?”). It’s an experiment in autonomous documentary directorial skill that was edited down into a video that made sense.

[Alex] designed Boxie to be the cutest thing we’ve ever seen so he could elicit a response from the subjects of the documentary. We’re going to say the voice helped, but [Alex] also found the cardboard robot factor also played into the success. Boxie was originally planned to have a plastic skin, but [Alex]‘s friends thought it looked really creepy. They suggested that [Alex] go back to the prototype cardboard body. All we know is there’s a robot cuter than a Keepon, finally.

28 thoughts on “Boxie is an adorable toddler videographer

  1. Very cool project. Also a very interesting, autonomous way to collect info about people in the workplace. It seems some folks will say more to a cute toy than they will a real person! ;)

  2. Could use one of these to spy on programs. ie unleash one of these in the Iranian nuclear program HQ and have it ask questions about their work in that cute little Tachicoma voice “So when do you believe we will have a working atomic bomb?”, “What are the weaknesses you see in your work?”, “Show me some place secret and cool!”

  3. They should put a touch sensor on the bottom and when people pick it up by putting a hand on the bottom have it say “Oooooooh, your touching my genitals!”

  4. I love the voice on it.

    One thing I’d suggest for improving it is to put a small screen on it showing the video, so people can frame their shots better. It looked like most people were struggling to tell if they were actually in the shot or not. Even a tiny 1×1 inch screen would be enough to help with that. Possibly one on the front and one on the back, so they can still see when they are carrying and showing the robot around. You’d get more faces, and less random ceiling shots.

    1. If it has access to the video feed itself, you could use face detection and articulate the head to have the robot do all the framing.

  5. very nice. I would love to have the resources and knowledge to be able to build a fleet of these, though somewhat more rugged and with built in features such as: connectivity to a central server via wifi or 3g/4g to report gps positioning along with various states of distress (broken, low battery, unable to move, acceleration data exceeded maximum safe levels, etc) or upload the various data it has captured while making it’s rounds at say, A-Kon, Comic Con, QuakeCon or any fun and entertainment themed trade show.

  6. Whoever did the voice for Boxie made it great.

    It should probably warn people before it’s going to drive again ;-) “I’m getting weady to go expwore some more… so put me down if you don’t want ya face mangled by my chain DWIVEEE.”

  7. Its face reminds me strongly of Robox and Boxbot from the excellent webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court, which everyone interested in human-technology relations should read. Gotta love cute, bumbling robots :)

    1. I saw this and was going to post the same thing. Fortunately I actually read the comments so I avoid posting duplicate information.

      I will link to the actual comic at http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/ since it deserves all the attention a good story should get.

      For those too lazy to read the comic (a terrible excuse): Don’t build boxbox. And be wary of gifts from gods, especially trickster gods. But mostly don’t build boxbot.

  8. SO I was going to ask first, but then did some searching round, and I can now state with certainty that the chassis used in this project is this:

    http://www.lynxmotion.com/p-577-tri-track-chassis-kit-no-electronics.aspx

    I only say because I wanted to find out, my daughter saw this and immediately asked for one. Turns out they are a little bit pricey, so my question is, anyone know where I might source a more cost effective tri-track chassis. Don’t need motors etc.

    I’ll do some digging around and share if I have luck

    x

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