Pardee RANDroid Takes a Spin on Campus

Alum Zhimin Mao (cohort '11) uses the Pardee RANDroid to present from Washington, D.C.

Boston-based alum Min Mao (cohort '11) used the Pardee RANDroid in November to talk to students in Santa Monica

Photo by Amy Nabel/Pardee RAND

December 1, 2017

Rolling down the halls of the school, the new Pardee RAND robot, nicknamed Pardee RANDroid, can cause quite the stir.

At just over five feet tall, the robot gives its remote user a visibility and presence far surpassing a videoconferencing screen, and students, faculty, and staff alike enjoy interacting with the robot.

This engagement is why the school purchased the bot in the first place. Professor Ann Pendleton-Jullian will be teaching the new Studio course in the winter remotely one day per week, but felt the Studio required a level of interactivity with students that a standard videoconference couldn’t provide.

Having used the bot technology at Georgetown University, Pendleton-Jullian knew it could give a virtual presence to the remote speaker that would allow for improved interactivity and learning. The bot can turn to focus on someone speaking, a naturalism that allows for a level of informality that can break down communication barriers that might arise in a more stilted environment.

Alum Min Mao (cohort '11) used the robot in November to give a talk to current students from her office at Harvard. After the talk commented, "It was nice to be able to give a talk without having to travel to the RAND DC office. The interaction with students is essentially the same [as a video conference], but the fact that I could move around the room by controlling the robot was exciting. You can potentially get closer to each individual audience that way. This is probably the biggest advantage compared to video conference. I for one welcome our new robot overlord."