The robot with a heart

I have always been a massive fan of robots – a future of robots cooking and cleaning pushing all the right buttons to the point where I could do a robot dance for joy. Slight exagerration, but you hopefully you grasp (or more appropriately – compute) what I am trying to say – the risks and worries of a humanity tempered by robots with egos too big for their microchips concerns me less than the threats of climate change, overpopulation and even UFOs. The charm and courage of R2D2, Wall-E and co. obviously winning the battle in my mind against the vices of the androids and cyber-whatsits who continually pop up in Doctor Who.

Who could say no?

I therefore love – and here I mean to ‘gush over’, ‘adulate’ and ‘be enamoured by’, Don-8r. Don-8r is a robot designed to encourage people to give, which makes him a bit of a machine martyr to a charitable cause. You see Don-8r is fuelled by coins – his cute “hello” squeaks, circular and apparently random movements and glowing snowman-like face only activated when passerbys feed him with coins. Coins that end up going to charity (after Don-8r performs a few polite swirls and swivels to say thank you). So Don-8r is really one clever and socially-conscious robot. Don-8r is the brainchild, or should I say ‘brainrobot’, of Tim Pryde, a product design student at the University of Dundee who created the robot to raise money for charity by making passerbys come to a good cause – the one instance where a robot is more approachable than a human. The street charity worker of the future potentially defunct… and as many might say, “good riddance”.

What I really like about Don-8r (and what’s not to like) is how he makes donating fun, as Pryde himself puts it “DON-8r plays upon our curiosity and empathy” – discovering a mysterious object on the street, and then reacting with a chorus of “awws” and “oohs”. The experience of rewarding Don-8r in itself becomes rewarding. And even better Don-8r accepts coppers, making him very easy to please.


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