If a cute, colorful trashcan waddled up to you and told you to pick up your trash, could you resist? Researchers at Japan's Toyohashi University of Technology are betting you can't.
They've invented the Social Trash Box, which detects trash, then trundles up to humans and asks them to pick it up. It comes equipped with wheels and motors that enable it to twist left and right and bend backward and forward, and a pyroelectric infrared sensor to detect people's body heat and move toward them. The affable little cans recently made an appearance at the iRex International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo.
"The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effective social cues, behaviors, and other essential factors to facilitate children in their anticipation of the behavior of a sociable trash box robot," according to the website. Personally, I would love to have one of these things around the house coming up to me, collecting my trash and scurrying back to the kitchen Roomba-style.
[Image courtesy of Interaction and Communications Design Lab, Toyohashi University of Technology]