Often when taking out books from our local library, we take forever to return them. Those overdue charges can add up quick. What to do? In one California city, residents are using a robot to return their overdue library books.
Meet Book Bot. It’s an autonomous robot that will return your library books. The bot was created by Google experimental division Area 120. Book Bot is currently testing in Mountain View, California going to and from the public library.
Book Bot Testing in Mountain View
The six-wheel robot stands about 2 and a half feet tall while weighing 100 pounds. It can carry about 50 pounds worth of books while traveling up to 4.5 mph. Text messages will keep customers updated on Book Bot’s location.
The library says the robot can fit about 10 items in its compartment depending on the size of the books. Customers can also return DVDs, music CDs, and audiobooks.
A human will accompany the Book Bot for the first six months of the program just to make sure there are no issues. During the last three months, the robot will be on its own with a human keeping tabs on it remotely.
Book Bot Popular With Locals
Book Bot operates only on Thursdays between the hours of 11 AM and 8 PM. The robot is equipped with headlights to help it operate after the sun goes down. The Boo Bot has been so popular with locals that it must be booked weeks ahead of time. The service is free of charge.
“Like all libraries, Mountain View finds there’s a certain percentage of scofflaws, who, for whatever reason, fail to return their books. It’s just a great way to give people the convenience of being able to return their books without leaving the house,” said Library Director Tracy Gray.
Area 120 is continuing to tweak and modify Book Bot during the testing program. The city is hoping the convenience of using a robot will encourage more people, especially those with limited mobility, to take advantage of the local library.
Last year the city council started allowing permits for companies testing personal delivery robots. Starship Technologies was the first to take advantage of this as they introduced on-demand autonomous delivery bots last April for Intuit employees. The robots delivered food and packages on the company’s campus.