Robot Etiquette

Designing Autonomous Machines for Pedestrian Spaces

A couple walking with a gita robot at the Boston Seaport

Building technology products that move the way people move

When it comes to lightweight machines that travel at low speeds in the public realm on sidewalks, parks, lobbies, corridors and boardwalks there are alternative interactions with people other than detection and avoidance. For these machines we need an approach that makes us more, rather than less, human. Machines need to be designed with humans in mind, mimicking the acceleration, deceleration and turning radius of people.

Smart Behaviors

We begin all of our design and engineering by observing people. After three years of detailed observation, we have built an extensive knowledge base: how people walk with each other; the difference between walking with an adult and a child; how people move with the things they carry, drag, push and hold; predicting when people plan to turn a corner and how they turn a corner; how they walk through doors and hold them open for each other; how close they are to one another when they stand and when they walk; how people stop and start moving and how much room they require; the dynamic distance they keep in front and behind one another while walking at different speeds; the leading and following positions people take while moving. These are just a few of the many insights we gained with our Smart Behaviors team after thousands of hours capturing, observing, analyzing and documenting how people move and interact.

Design specification for comfortable following distance relative to walking speed

Pedestrian Friendly Shapes not Tiny Trucks

These insights not only guide the detection and navigation of our software algorithms, they also drive the size, shape and locomotion of our products. This is why our first product gita™ is not a tiny truck but a robot that balances on large wheels, that accelerates and decelerates with the speed and distance of a person, and that can rotate in place as fast as a person with a zero turning radius. Even when designing sound, lighting and color we begin with the culture of the sidewalk, park and building interior rather than with the logic or styling of cars and trucks.

Diagram showing gita’s sensors and their cones of view



CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward

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