UW News

February 10, 2012

Robot flash mob: Bots come out to dance, assist humanity on Red Square

UW News

Its a little-known secret on the UW campus that if you ask really nicely, robots may come out and dance in Red Square.

A robot roundup on Red Square.

Such was the case Friday, Feb. 10, for an 11-year-old boy named Alex, who told the Make-a-Wish Foundation hed like to see robots in action helping humanity and even bringing about world peace.

That was enough to get the UW community in action. Students quickly organized a way of giving Alex an afternoon to remember.

They choreographed a routine and passed it on through YouTube, so that by just after 2 p.m. Friday, after a quick rehearsal, they were ready to fill the square with dancing robots — and, well, robot allies, beeping, singing, and doing that angular dance we all know robots do.

Alex arrived on Red Square just after taking a tour, appropriately enough, of the UW BioRobotics lab.

It was a regular robot roundup. There were box-headed bots, blinky-eyed bots, building-like bots, tinfoil-bedecked bots, a big guy named Partybot, Star Wars imperial troops, a Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi and lots more. And everywhere, folks held signs that said “Alex rules!” and “Robots rule!” or “World peace!”

Alex came and went in style. His ride was a sleek black stretch limo, trailed by UW Police cruisers beeping their horns importantly.

They curled around Red Square, beeped again, and drove off.

Minutes later, it was as if nothing had happened — which is how a good flash mob should work.

Still, its good to know that there are so many caring, compassionate and creative people, er, robots, on campus. Enough to make a wish come true — and then some.