Even Trash Can Robots Need Social Skills

Pity the trash can robot. When it tried to offer its services as a waste receptacle in a Stanford University cafeteria, some people pointedly ignored the robot despite its attempts to get their attention. One person even gave the trash robot a kick to move it along. Unlike the protocol droid C-3PO from “Star Wars,” the trash can robot took its abuse in good stride rather than blurting out “How rude!”

The trash robot represented part of a Stanford University experiment designed to test how

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