Top 5 Robot Fails of 2016 Provide Service Lessons

In the News
January 16, 2017

Robotics is a serious business, encompassing industrial automation, healthcare applications, military strategy, and much more. It can be a serious problem when robots don’t meet performance expectations.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t poke a little fun at the robot fails as they try to be more human.

Do the robots know we’re laughing at them? Let’s hope not! Here’s a roundup of the biggest robot fails of 2016.

Fail 5 — Not funny

In December, facial recognition software in New Zealand rejected a citizen of Asian descent because his eyes weren’t open. The problem is, his eyes were open.

The 22-year-old had submitted an online application for passport renewal. The software deemed the first picture invalid but later accepted a second picture.

At least the victim isn’t alone. According to the government, an estimated 20 percent of photos are rejected for “various reasons.” The incident revealed the bias that can exist within so-called intelligent software.

Today it’s the eyes. Tomorrow, will it be the height, skin color, or clothing that robots don’t like?

Fail 4 — Wanting to be noticed

Humans escaping — or trying to escape — confinement isn’t a new phenomenon. But robots copying that behavior definitely is.

In Russia, a service robot called “Promobot” caused a traffic jam after it escaped from its lab. Once captured, the engineers reprogrammed the robot hoping it would solve the problem. Nope. The robot tried escaping again, reaching 50m into the street after breaking down and causing another traffic jam.

If that’s not enough, in September, Promobot was arrested for taking part in a political rally in Russia. What was it doing there? Recording the opinion of voters to later be examined by the political party. Police tried handcuffing the robot and, thankfully, it didn’t put up any resistance — this time.

Clearly, the robot was suffering from some emotional problems and wanted to be noticed by police, drivers, and protestors alike.

Continue Reading