“Excuse me, cat, when you are ready I will need you to relocate so that I may sweep this area.” The cat made a few last swipes at its whiskers and then stood. It the ambled down the sidewalk a few meters, sat down, and continued grooming. “Thank you,” the robot said and began briskly sweeping the pavement. The cat looked up for a moment and then returned its attention to its ears. . I documented this scene on the back of a plastic bag given to me on a recent trip by a friendly robot concerned that I may experience some “bias instability or null error with my gyroscope.” (Barf??)
Hello friend. Save for obvious variations in gross surface anatomy, the robots might appear to be indistinguishable from each other. But each one is wonderfully unique, its life story told via scratches and dents on its housings.
(Don’t forget— the freshest content can be found on Instagram @robotoftheday !)
I don’t need to know much about the ebb and flow of robot activity. They can certainly make for varied and interesting conversationalists but I hesitate to dig deeper in an attempt to learn more about their inner lives. In a way they are very much like the cats they keep company with: somewhat inscrutable and revealing only what is necessary in the moment. Still waters may run very deep indeed. (Upon my first use of this metaphor in a conversation I had to go to great lengths to explain that puddles may be still indeed but they weren’t always deep. Unless they were!)
I spotted this brightly-colored robot across the street, a brief bubble of contemplation in the surrounding bustle of the market district. I know some robots employ temporary methods of decoration; it takes real commitment to go with anodizing dyes.
Hanging around outside a rechargé one evening and these two caught my eye. They appeared to be waiting with patience only robots seem to be able to muster. After a time I made a quick pencil sketch to document the scene. Eventually I began to rummage for an ink pen to proceed further when the third member of their party arrived (from an apparently unexpected vector) and all three proceeded to squeeze into the cab of this improbably tiny vehicle. After just a few moments of arranging themselves, the truck, cargo, and three robots hummed away from the curb and disappeared around the corner into the deepening twilight.
We’ve only just turned the corner on solstice and already we’re dreaming of sunny days and abundant energy. There’s a little rechargé vendor that usually parks their cart at a nearby open space that provides plenty of excellent “robot watching.”
It’s been far too long since I last visited the robots. Life, right? I managed to get away and explore some more side streets and encountered this bookseller. I couldn’t really tell what the sign meant but all of the books I picked up seemed to be about cats. So… a cat book store?
Sharing a brief glance at each other, we turned and proceeded haltingly down the narrow corridor towards the lights. They moved: back and forth, receding, dimming, disappearing. There was a pattern, a rhythm but no sound accompanied the lights’ traverses across the darkness as we approached. Eventually we moved into a room with a large window set in to one wall— it was through this that we could see the lights. A few few chairs, covered in a thick layer of dust and debris, were arrayed along the opposite wall. On the wall above was a large plaque, our hand-lights glinting off its metallic frame. We climbed on the chairs to get a better look and one of the robots wiped a hand across the face of the plaque, revealing… the name of this place? The function of this room? “ASPEKT High Energy Particle Research.” We all looked at each other; the plaque provided no additional information and all we could do was speculate. Turning our attention to the window and the view beyond we discovered the true nature of the floating lights. They were set in a series of arches that curved away into the inky darkness. The lights flashed in sequence, eventually disappearing around the curvature of the tunnel, after a few minutes the lights returned from the opposite direction. What the lights indicated we could only guess, but one thing was clear: something was still active. In this place. One of my companions turned away from the window, “Keep all shields in place and do not activate wireless communications. I am detecting increasingly elevated EM energy.” What’s going on here? What is this place?
A continuation of the story from the last post. It is currently unfinished but we plan to return to it in the coming months.
Was my unease mirrored in my companions’ uncertain movements? One turned to me, “Be at ease. There are no ‘spectral entities’ here— it is just a rodent underfoot.” I glanced down to see the robot shuffle their feet around a scurrying rat as it disappeared into a crack. The other robot had fixed their attention down the dark corridor: “I am unable to explain the appearance of those lights in the distance,” as they gestured at clustered pinpoints of light that appeared to float in the darkness.
Still working through backlog and hitting some highlights. For more, please visit the robots on Instagram @robotoftheday
The journey out to the fringe of the Unmapped Area was swift and uneventful. And from the outside the derelict structure was merely interesting, utterly lacking any menace and presenting only the ravages of the environment. However, once inside the atmosphere changed almost immediately— there seemed a charge to the air. My companions informed me that they were detected elevated and fluctuating EM noise. Oddly, broken glass covered the floor yet the few windows present were still intact. We gave up attempting to avoid stepping on any and cautiously picked our way deeper into the structure, glass crunching underfoot. Shadows from our lights danced on the walls and ceiling. “What did you say?” I asked. Both robots stopped and turned towards me, “We did not say anything. What are you detecting?” I turned back the way we had come, “What? Wait…is there someone in here with us??”