Robot Journalist Takes Pictures, Asks Questions, Publishes Online

19 21 Loading
journalist robot from Tokyo University

This robot journalist can explore its surroundings, take pictures, interview people, perform internet searches, and publish online. Ok, I'm about to lose my job.

Robots are after my job. Researchers at the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab (ISI) at Tokyo University have developed a journalist robot that can autonomously explore its environment and report what it finds. The robot detects changes in its surroundings, decides if they are relevant, and then takes pictures with its on board camera. It can query nearby people for information, and it uses internet searches to further round out its understanding. If something appears newsworthy, the robot will even write a short article and publish it to the web. Charlie Catlett, from Argonne National Labs, seemed impressed with the bot, and it made a splash at the most recent meeting of the Information Processing Society of Japan. By combining real world and internet research, the journalist robot is taking a step beyond other automated systems. Give it enough time, and robots like these could become a valued asset for news feeds everywhere.

We’ve seen a growing trend for automated journalism in the last year. There’s software that can write a decent sports story or even generate original news video by compiling images and opinions from the web. Journalist robots, however, are really taking the phenomenon to another level. This is the first robot I’ve seen that gathers primary source information from people in the field. That’s real journalism, even if it’s at a primitive level. What’s more, if our experiences with crowd-navigated robots have shown us anything it’s that people seem to like helping bots in need. Robot journalists can go to areas too dangerous for human reporters. Back in 2002, MIT created the Afghan eXplorer robot to cover the war there. Of course, that robot was a teleoperated shell while the ISI bot is autonomous. Which means that we can make a huge number of these bots, send them out into the field unsupervised, and have them generate a new era of robot written media. People may even want to read it. Of course, human journalists are likely to be preferred for years to come. After all, the robot can’t take pictures, do independent research, interview witnesses, work under extreme stress, pull an all-nighter make pithy pop culture references.

robot journalist

An older model of the journalist robot shows some of its components, including a base adapted from a Segway.

robot journalist flow chart

The robot journalist compiles information from both live and online sources to generate its article.

[image credits: Charlie Catlett via Twitter, ISI Lab]
[source: IEEE, ISI Lab (Google Translated), University of Tokyo Proposals (Google Translated), BBC News]

Discussion — 21 Responses

  • Veta Spieler April 12, 2010 on 5:14 pm

    hey I like this post. I found it from doing a google search. Ive been looking for this sort of thing for a while. This info will come in handy to me. I will check back soon to search the rest of your blog. thanks

  • Veta Spieler April 12, 2010 on 1:14 pm

    hey I like this post. I found it from doing a google search. Ive been looking for this sort of thing for a while. This info will come in handy to me. I will check back soon to search the rest of your blog. thanks

  • mushroom growing kits June 2, 2010 on 10:59 pm

    I should really go jogging, but this is amazing stuff.
    Can’t wait for your next post. Do you have a list to sign up to? Please let me know where to sign up.

  • mushroom growing kits June 2, 2010 on 6:59 pm

    I should really go jogging, but this is amazing stuff.
    Can’t wait for your next post. Do you have a list to sign up to? Please let me know where to sign up.

  • Daniel Walsh June 6, 2010 on 3:04 pm

    Wow, this is the coolest thing ever!! Great post :)

  • Daniel Walsh June 6, 2010 on 11:04 am

    Wow, this is the coolest thing ever!! Great post :)

  • Scott Bernand July 23, 2010 on 7:29 pm

    An individual independent speech for NBC inside the Tv show. This individual has a seriously tough immigration policy. They graduated about the Harvard College. Right now he provides her 1 Broadcast Show. He could not like the actual American president.

  • Scott Bernand July 23, 2010 on 3:29 pm

    An individual independent speech for NBC inside the Tv show. This individual has a seriously tough immigration policy. They graduated about the Harvard College. Right now he provides her 1 Broadcast Show. He could not like the actual American president.

  • Andrea July 24, 2010 on 2:48 pm

    I see that it is your passion.

  • Andrea July 24, 2010 on 10:48 am

    I see that it is your passion.

  • Michele Johnson August 3, 2010 on 11:15 pm

    I think soon journalists will be jobless :P

  • Michele Johnson August 3, 2010 on 7:15 pm

    I think soon journalists will be jobless :P

  • Martin the career aptitude guy August 21, 2010 on 9:53 am

    The only thing computers cannot do as well as humans is be creative and yet as a society we have relegated creativity. In our schools we dump creativity at primary level. If we want to save all our jobs from the computers then we need to invest more time in developing our creativity cause we can’t beat computers at their own game.

  • Martin the career aptitude guy August 21, 2010 on 5:53 am

    The only thing computers cannot do as well as humans is be creative and yet as a society we have relegated creativity. In our schools we dump creativity at primary level. If we want to save all our jobs from the computers then we need to invest more time in developing our creativity cause we can’t beat computers at their own game.

  • jewelers in West Valley August 25, 2010 on 4:18 am

    The layout of the weblog is totally messed up when I look at it in Opera. Plz fix it.

  • jewelers in West Valley August 25, 2010 on 12:18 am

    The layout of the weblog is totally messed up when I look at it in Opera. Plz fix it.

  • zen August 31, 2010 on 2:47 pm

    they got some great dancing robots in Japan too
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/japanese-robot-dancing-competiton/

  • zen August 31, 2010 on 10:47 am

    they got some great dancing robots in Japan too
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/japanese-robot-dancing-competiton/

  • dan January 26, 2011 on 9:37 pm

    Pretty scary to think our future, robots will manage our lives. Just like in the movies….
    http://www.israel38.co.il

  • Pedro Santamaria March 12, 2013 on 3:11 am

    I have de “impression” that human scientis exist, yet, thah behave as jour robot journalist.
    Pedro