The “Wijkbot Kit” (where “wijk” means “neighborhood” in Dutch) is a collection of open-source, low-cost tools and methods for co-creating “city bots” that can be designed, developed, owned, maintained and operated by local communities.
While self-driving cars are receiving a lot of publicity, all kinds of other autonomously operating vehicles and objects have already started showing up in our cities. In a few years, we will likely find ourselves surrounded by autonomous street-cleaners, vendors, advertisers, delivery vehicles, or security bots. These kinds of devices are being developed by various big-tech companies and startups, driven by new business opportunities. Perhaps because of that, we rarely hear the critical questions being asked about the impact such “city bots” will have on the everyday lives of people in cities.
In the project Cities of Things Lab 010 we develop ways to engage inhabitants of various neighborhoods of Rotterdam in creating an alternative version to the above future; one in which city bots are designed, developed, owned, maintained and supervised by the citizens themselves.
The WijkBot Co-Creation Tools
Alongside the technological kit, we’re also developing tools supporting the co-creation and co-maintenance of city bots by local citizen communities. This includes ways to identify neighborhood problems and opportunities for which robots could be of help, organize neighborhood co-creation sessions, set up a business model for a robot initiative, organize robot development and maintenance, as well as deal with the involved ethical challenges.
The WijkBot-enabled research
WijkBot prototypes allow us to do research into the near future risks and opportunities of autonomous robots, with an explicit focus on the investigation of the roles neighborhood bots can assume in local communities and ways in which they can sustainably contribute to their thriving. This research is embedded in the Civic Prototyping lectorate of the Research Centre Creating010 at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and its research theme Smart and Social City.
WijkBots to date
The Wijkbot kit has been used for numerous experiments and research projects. Find most of the examples on the website wijkbot.nl
We continue to develop the WijkBot Kit to find new ways for creating positive and productive ways of living and collaborating among citizens and city bots. By designing and prototyping them together in local communities, we aspire to strengthen local civic competences and capacities. We envision a future in which citizens, together with designers and new kinds of professionals, will design and develop city bot prototypes themselves that match the daily practice and needs of Rotterdam residents. In the Afrikaanderwijk we are preparing to realize a ‘biotope of smart objects’ that will work and live as neighbours with residents and that improve social participation and inspire new experiences.
On show at TH/NGS 2023
We will show a couple of Wijkbots at the exhibition, and have a special presence of the Hoodbots with unintended consequences that were made at the pre-event on 14 December.