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Meet BookBot: Mountain View Library's Newest Robot Helper

Mountain View resident returns a book using the BookBot device

The BookBot device makes house calls to pick up library books and returns them to the Mountain View Library.

Credit: Randy Vazquez / Bay Area News Group

BookBot, a creation of Google's Area 120, will return books to the library for residents in Mountain View, Calif. The bot is Google's first personal delivery robot to hit the streets and begin interacting with the public, says Christian Bersch, the project's team lead.

"Right now, we just want to learn how this would work, how it operates, and what kinds of problems we'd run into," he says. "It's still an active development.

The pilot program will run for nine months with a human handler following behind the BookBot for the first six months. That's to make sure it's operating as planned, get it out of trouble as needed, and observe how people are responding.

On a recent Thursday, children shrieked at the sight of the robot and immediately jumped in its path to see if it would stop. (It does.) Adults either pulled out their cameras to snag photos or video and gawk or nonchalantly went about their way.

"It's just a great way to give people the convenience of being able to return their books without leaving the house," says library director Tracy Gray.

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