After writing about Hakim Maloum, who walked across the United States relying on the kindness of strangers, I found an interesting website about something similar. Meet the tweenbots…


Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. With a destination displayed on a flag they roll at a constant speed, in a straight line, relying on the people who happen upon them to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their destination.

The smiley faced cardboard robots are the brainchild of NYU Student, artist and designer, Kacie Kinzer who was interested to see if her tweenbots could traverse sidewalks and streets along with everyone else.

“Given their extreme vulnerability, the vastness of city space, the dangers posed by traffic, suspicion of terrorism, and the possibility that no one would be interested in helping a lost little robot, I initially conceived the Tweenbots as disposable creatures which were more likely to struggle and die in the city than to reach their destination.” Writes Kinzer on the tweenbots website.

Due to their limited technology Kinzer had no way of tracking the Tweenbot’s progress, however she kept a watchful eye on her first Tweenbot filming its progress from a distance with a video camera hidden in her purse.

Surprised by the Tweenbots success at getting to its destination with help from passers-by Kinzer created, and monitored, further ‘missions’ for the Tweenbots.

“Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation.” Writes Kinzer at the projects website.

“The journey the Tweenbots take each time they are released in the city becomes a story of people’s willingness to engage with a creature that mirrors human characteristics of vulnerability, of being lost, and of having intention without the means of achieving its goal alone. As each encounter with a helpful pedestrian takes the robot one step closer to attaining its destination, the significance of our random discoveries and individual actions accumulates into a story about a vast space made small by an even smaller robot.” Kinzer observed.

For her thesis at ITP Kinzer is currently testing more Tweenbots in New York City, the results of which she plans to make available online. For more information check out

Tweenbots from kacie kinzer on Vimeo.

Kacie Kinzer
Walking the walk