Georgia Tech Students Train Robot to Give Out Candy on Halloween

The previous Halloween, Sonia Chernova barely left her doorstep in Decatur, Georgia, handing out candy to a steady stream of kids.

Wearing a mask, cape and hat, Sawyer the robot gives out candy on Halloween. (Credit: Georgia Tech)

This year, she placed an autonomous robot on the porch to distribute candy on her behalf. It gave out 1,000 pieces in three hours to numerous kids.

Best Halloween ever, both kids and parents loved getting candy from a real robot, and many people stayed around to watch it work. Now all of my neighbors want one for their house next year!

Sonia Chernova, an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing

Chernova’s research team is credited for the event. They got the idea after she declared that Halloween is overwhelming at her house due to the crowds. The students began working, training Sawyer, a collaborative machine assembled by Rethink Robotics, in less than an hour. They just showed the robot the motions that were necessary. Then on, the robot did the work for the rest of the night.

“It was fun to watch the faces of the kids when they walked up to the house,” Chernova said. “Everyone wanted to know who was remotely controlling the robot, but everything was autonomous. It was a lot of fun!”

The robot wore a cape, hat, and mask.

What is next?

Maybe we’ll have Sawyer carve a turkey on Thanksgiving, or hang ornaments during the holidays.

Sonia Chernova, an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing

Chernova supervises Georgia Tech’s Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning (RAIL) lab, which works to create robots more accessible to people. Andrew Silva, Jonathan Balloch, David Kent, Siddhartha Banerjee, Angel Daruna, Asif Rana and Weiuy Liu are the students who participated in the Halloween project.

Georgia Tech students programmed a robot to give out candy to hundreds of kids on Halloween.

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