Text and walk without worry
Since introducing Walk-a-Bots to campus, students and employees at SAIT can safely and politely cross the grounds without looking up from their cell phones and other devices.
Walk-a-Bots offer a standing platform for riders engrossed in digital demands, while GPS and smart sensors help the robot navigate through crowds and doorways, around corners, and away from hazards.
During SAIT's Walk-a-Bot pilot period in March, six machines — built and programmed by SAIT's School of Manufacturing and Automation — were available to rent by anyone with a SAIT student or employee number.
SAIT instructor Karel Capek has already become reliant on the Walk-a-Bot for accomplishing more between classes.
"My productivity has increased significantly since I started using the robot," says Capek. "You can take care of a lot while you're on the go — this is a big campus."
The program was spearheaded by SAIT's Health Safety and Environment (HSE) department — an area devoted to improving and maintaining safety and comfort on campus.
Kevin Barrett, HSE Manager, says while there have been no reported injuries caused by distracted walking at SAIT, the potential is there as long as people refuse to look up from their phones.
"Some people will walk across the entire campus with their head down," says Barrett. "We've given these people a way to surf the web or read emails on-the-go without putting other pedestrians at risk of a collision."
If there's a demand, even more Walk-a-Bots will be added to SAIT's roster of campus escorts before the fall semester commences.
April 1, 2015