What is BookBot?
BookBot is an autonomous sidewalk delivery robot developed by Google’s Area 120 incubator. For a few months, the BookBot team ran a pilot test in Mountain View, CA, driving to local homes on demand to pick up library books and returning them to Mountain View Library.
See It in Action
Below is a video from a Mercury News article about BookBot.
I was asked by Google’s Area 120 group to redesign Book Bot on a very aggressive timeline — only two days to redesign the chassis and lid. The entire transformation below occurred over two days.
The ask was to make BookBot look more attractive and less like an engineered prototype. I additionally proposed to make it look friendly and approachable, to give its face the ability to express states as emotions, and to use rounded geometry in case of collisions.
The original design was highly optimized for computer vision and simple mechanical architecture but looks unapproachable, like a military robot. Sharp edges on the front and rear pose a risk for damage on collision.
The new design takes public reception and approachability as a first priority. The distinct eyes and blushed cheeks give people an intuitive way to relate to BookBot and express different states in ways analogous to the human face. The cameras and sensors were slightly reorganized to avoid crowding the “face” features.