New Nightmare for Celebs: Paparazzi Bots
Paparazzi bots are autonomous robotic camerabots. Designed at Ohio State University, they debuted at the Vancouver Olympics.
The Paparazzi Bots are autonomous robots, each a tech-hybrid camera and cameraman. Comprised of multiple cameras and sensors on a custom-built rolling platform, they move at the speed of a walking human, avoiding walls and obstacles.
As the robots work the room, infrared sensors move them toward humans, with the single goal of taking photos of people, mimicking the frenzied paparazzi. Each robot makes the decision to take photos of particular people based on such things as whether a person is smiling or not.
Once a person or group is selected, the robots automatically stop, adjust their focus, and record the moment with several flashes. Later the images of those they’ve chosen to stalk are published to the web, making formerly anonymous people and the Paparazzi Bots themselves, media celebrities for a few fleeting moments.
Philip K. Dick foresaw this moment. Writing in his 1966 novel The Simulacra, he describes reporting machines and autonomous interviewers that wouldn't give up without getting the story:
The buzzing, super-alert obnoxiously persistent reporting machine said, "Is it true, Dr. Egon Superb, that you're going to try to enter your office today?"
"It is interesting," one of the reporting machines was murmuring, for the benefit of its TV audience...
"But for the present, we can only..." The newscaster rattled excitedly on, as all over the USEA the mechanical reporting machines coasted about in the areas of conflict, gathering data for him.
(Read more about PKD's reporting machines)
Camerabot fans will also enjoy the Tumbln' Tumbleweed Spy Robot Camera and of course Throwbot - Pocket-Sized Recon Robot . The remarkable Filmmaking Robot can make its own movies.