Side Project


Raven is an interactive robotic object that is placed on busy streets to share requests made by homeless individuals (at local community centers) with the settled population in the city. People can fulfill these requests either themselves or collectively by contributing funds, services, or time.

In the news

HCI students win Student Design Competition at HRI2017


Chetan Bhatia, Fuchang Yang, Hoadan Tan, Nava Tummalapalli

Homelessness exists

...and we can do something about it. On a single night in 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. For every 10,000 people in the country, 17 were experiencing homelessness (HUD 2017). Unfortunately, the leading reason is insufficient income and not being able afford housing. Being a resident of bay area, which also has the largest homeless population, a studio apartment rents anywhere between $1400-$2000. It is impossible to afford this kind of housing without a consistent job.

With the difficulties that the homeless face in meeting their basic needs of safety and comfort, and with widespread misconceptions about their capabilities by the settled population, the homeless are often unable to keep routines and to find jobs.

With rules for public space occupation becoming stricter in many urban cities around the world, homeless people cannot get a good sleep every night which results in inconsistent wakeup times, which in turn results in not showing up at a day job even if they had one. Most of these needs are small and can be fulfilled by any settled people in the community. A typical example would be a jacket to wear in extreme weather conditions.

We asked ourselves this question - what if there was a platform in which the homeless and the settled in a given community can interact with each other, share things and services and help become self-sustainable in a way that can boost the positive attitude in the community itself and also help the homeless to graduate from being homelessness?

The video showcases the story that our team communicated at the Human-Robot Interaction conference 2017 in Vienna, Austria.

Why a mailbox?

We wanted something that most people know and are familiar with. Mailbox is an everyday object that we see and is used to contain mails from our loved ones and others. It elicits a friendly feeling that intrigues anyone to open and check out what's in there. Moreover, the vision was to install Ravens at places that we would least expect it. Something like "Why is this mailbox here in front of an Apple store?!". And with it's anthropomorphic movements, we hope that it catches the attention of the passersby.