Villagers in the rural community of Ayyampathy in India are now able to get access to clean water, without having to exert themselves carrying heavy pails thanks to the Husky robot.
Researchers in the UK and India have developed the robot to ensure everyone can access safe drinking water. The robot can carry up to three 20 litre bottles at a time and is operated by remote control.
Husky speaks to the volunteers operating the robot, directing them to put the bottles on it and help it find its way home. It thanks them when they get to their destination and always advises them to wash their hands before eating.
The initiative was developed not only to make the process of collecting water better for villagers, but also to see how rural communities react to having a robot help them with daily tasks.
“Most of the research carried out to date on human-robot interactions is carried out in lab environments in urban settings, with people who have developed some conception of what robots are and how they work by seeing depictions of them in TV and film,” Amol Deshmukh, a research associate in the school of computing science at Glasgow University said.
“We wanted to see how people from considerably more remote rural populations would view robots, which have a lot of labour-saving potential.”
However, costing £25,000 each, it’s unlikely the robot will be commercially rolled out to all remote villages in India. instead, it is being used to see how people who don’t have an awareness of such technologies react to robotics.
“Every one of them said the robot made their lives easier, and they unanimously reported that they enjoyed working with the robot. Interestingly, they were also unanimous on the robot being ‘alive’, despite being aware that it was being controlled remotely,” Deshmukh said.