For Six Hours Reddit Played a Game With a Robot
How do you introduce millions of people to a fun-loving & competitive consumer robot? Let them play with it. In what was a massive endeavor into Human-Robot Interaction, Redditors engaged for hours in crowd-sourced gameplay as they helped Anki's Cozmo escape 7 reddit-themed rooms. Each one modeled after specific subreddits challenged Redditors to help Cozmo complete tasks in order to earn points or engage in gameplay with Cozmo to beat levels and eventually win the whole game.
The mechanic for interaction was simple – Redditor's would be presented a question or suggestion from Cozmo with a handful of answers to select from. Reddit would vote on the answers and the highest voted answer is what Cozmo would do. Turn the trebuchet left, add weight, add more weight, launch Cozmo! Redditor's were in control of Cozmo's destiny. However, this meant the game could play out in millions of ways. As such, mechanics like questions and answers, stats and points were surfaced in real time as votes were monitored from the set during the live game.
Cozmo is autonomous in nature but we needed fine-tuned control over his actions and animations for this game. The task then became how can we control Cozmo in such a way that his character is true to form and his motions and animations appear natural to the product. Two roles were cast to really bring Cozmo to life – puppeteer and real time animator – and a tool chain was built around giving discrete control over Cozmo's actions, emotions and movements.
A network of robots allowed for continuous operation and rapid triaging during the live broadcast. In addition, this system handled the simulcast of an active robot's camera and computer vision visualizations to the live broadcast.