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Travis Deyle wrote in about Snackbot, an in-progress human-robot interaction project at Carnegie Mellon:

Back in May 2008 it was announced that CMU professors Sara Kiesler and Jodi Forlizzi (from the HCI Institute) and Paul Rybski (from the Robotics Institute) were awarded $500k in Microsoft’s Human-Robot Interaction funding to develop a social, snack-selling robot to traverse Newell-Simon and Wean halls (press release). After seeing a prototype appear on Flickr in July, we’ve all been waiting patiently to see pictures of the final version. Well, the wait is over — photos of the new CMU snackbot, conceptual designs, and construction photos are contained below! It appears that the CMU team is progressing nicely.

What impresses me most is that the physical design of the robot manages to express its function so clearly. The posture is helpful, but not servile. The spacing between the eyes and the shape of the mouth is attentive and non-threatening, a combination that seems difficult to achieve in most humanoid robots. It’s really a smart design.

Jodi Forlizzi has a few of photos posted to Flickr (shown above), and the team’s industrial designers Erik Glaser and Josh Finkle have a number of images of the design process posted on their sites. It’s well worth checking out, as you can see a number of concept sketches, as well as a bunch of gratuitous robot guts.

Snackbot! — A Social, Snack-Fetching Robot
Jodi Forlizzi’s Snackbot Photos
Erik Glaser’s Snackbot Photos
Josh Finkle’s Design Sketches (click Industrial Design -> Snackbot)