We know people love robots, but seeing thousands of eager spectators filling the Fairplex’s grandstand, cheering for a bunch of machines when they succeeded, lamenting when they fell or failed, and celebrating their human creators, gave us a new perspective on how much people love robots and seem to connect with them. As DARPA program manager and DRC organizer Dr. Gill Pratt beautifully put it:
“Why would anyone sit in the sun and heat, watching a machine take up to an hour to go through eight simple tasks that you could do in 5 minutes? The new discovery we made here is that there’s some incredible untapped affinity between people and robots that we saw for the first time today. Ordinary people, not roboticists, felt this identity, sympathy, empathy for the robot. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. . . . When the robot succeeded, they felt they succeeded. . . . I see potential for robots to connect with people and create a society where people actually feel better. Some people will say ‘That’s creepy, it’s a machine,’ except it’s a fact of life, we saw it today, people connecting with machines.”
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