End to overdue library books? A new mobile robot librarian drives around Mountain View and collects books that are due to be returned.
Every bookworm’s biggest hassle is the growing pile of borrowed books waiting to be returned to the library. Residents of Silicon Valley, California can say goodbye to the struggle – Google’s newest invention, Book Bot, will carry their overdue books back free of charge.
Every Thursday from 11am to 8pm, Book Bot drives around Mountain View and collects books from households. It can carry up to 50 pounds of books at once, and the pick-up has to be scheduled in advance. The robot will not operate during rain, hail or similar weather conditions. As of today, due to popularity, the waiting time is about a week. Only book return service is available.
The robot librarian is a creation of Google’s Area 120 – an initiative that brings dozens of innovative and experimental ideas to life. Book Bot is “still an active development,” says Christian Bersch, the project’s team lead. “Right now. we just want to learn how this would work, how it operates and what kinds of problems we’d run into,” he adds in an interview with Mercury News.
Book Bot will be followed for half a year by a (human) handler in order to ensure that it works as planned and to monitor the residents’ reactions. Afterwards, the robot will be controlled remotely for three more months.
The residents of Silicon Valley, however, are no strangers to seeing robots on the streets. Mountain View is home to numerous global technology companies such as Google, Facebook or Apple; besides, the Mountain View City Council permitted the companies to test out their devices on its streets in 2018.
Book Bot is a blessing not only for book-loving chronic procrastinators – it can be a lifesaver for families with infants, workers with a tight schedule, the elderly, people with disabilities or those with limited mobility.
Fascinated by how books influence culture and society, and especially keen on fiction. Still not fully convinced to ebooks, Kasia reads on a Kindle from time to time. But, whenever possible, she'll always pick print.
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