Proposal: Worldwide Scavenger Hunt Game with Sidewalk Robots (NounsBots)

NounsBots - Worldwide Scavenger Hunt Game with Sidewalk Robots

TL/DR We propose the following:

  • Hosting of 100 NounsBots (Nouns-Branded Sidewalk Robots) in 20 Cities (eg. London, Madrid, Vienna, Berlin, Singapore, Taipei, San Diego, Palo Alto, etc)
  • 5 GamePass NFTs for each Nouns holder
  • 6 monthly tournaments ending with grand global challenge

Nouns Proposal Banner GIF

Click here for a short explainer video on YouTube:

1. What’s a NounsBot?

NounsBots are Nouns-Branded sidewalk robots (powered by FrodoBots) that can be controlled remotely by a gamer (with a valid NounsBots GamePass NFT) via the internet with a game controller :video_game:.

Robot in Palo Alto

2x Robots touring the Stanford University campus
Left to right in Stanford

Game Controller + Browser

To begin driving, all you need is a game controller (most common brands like PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, Logitech, etc will work) connected to your desktop/laptop .

A “private gamer server” will be created (sth like ) to allow gamers to login and control NounsBots that are online at any given time (provided he/she has a NounsBots GamePass NFT).

Game tester (in Philippines) driving a robot in Palo Alto, USA
Game controller view

Drive in Day/Night, Rain or Shine

You can drive in day time…
Road Crossing in University Ave Palo Alto

…or night time…
Night Driving

…or through the rain.
Driving through rain

Tested in 10+ Cities

Test-driving in London
London Drive

Test-driving in Madrid
Madrid Drive

Test-driving in Stockholm
Stockholm Drive

Test-driving in Wuhan
Wuhan Drive

Test-driving in Liuzhou
Liuzhou Drive

Test-driving in Berlin
Berlin Drive

Interact with people

Each NounsBot is equipped with a microphone & speaker. The gamer will be able to hear and talk to people near the robot through the gaming interface.

Chatting with students at Stanford
Chatting with people

2. What’s the game?

Game Setup

Each NounsBot will have a list of navigation missions, where the gamer’s objective is to successfully navigate to various pre-defined checkpoints (potentially picking up various Nouns-branded digital collectibles at the checkpoints).

These collectibles & XPs (Experience Points) can only be “checked into” the gamer’s vault/inventory if gamer can successfully drive the robot safely back to that NounsBot’s specific home base location.

Navigation Mission Gameplay
Navigation Mission Gameplay

Each NounsBot will be hosted by a NounsBot Host (freelancer hired in any given city by FrodoBots team).

The NounsBot Host, with his/her local knowledge of the specific neighborhood, will help create these hyperlocal missions (with the various checkpoints) & subsequently assist with general maintenance of these bots (eg. charging, physical recovery in case bots are lost/damaged).

Spreading the word about Nouns

Each NounsBot will be decorated with Noggles stickers and include QR code that directs to an info page about this project and about Nouns in general.

Each NounsBot is equipped with microphone & speaker. Since only gamers equipped with NounsBots GamePass NFT (be it Nouns members or invited friends) can pilot these bots, that means Nouns members can literally talk to & interact with passers-by who are curious about the NounsBot.

3. What’s the plan?

Phase 1: Manufacturing/Testing/Shipping

Since FrodoBots team have already been manufacturing & testing the bots in various cities for months, production of these bots can be done once this proposal is approved by Nouns community.

Since 100 bots is still considered a small batch production, each robot will be custom made. Overall production time (including indoor & outdoor testing) expected to last 2-3 months.

Typical shipping time (from China where our production facility is based) will take between 2-4 weeks, depending on the specific city.

Phase 2: Testing in City/Neighborhood

While Phase 1 is on-going, we’ll start recruiting freelancers (in our experience, college students who’re enthusiastic about robotics are great candidates) to assist with the NounsBot Host role.

When these NounsBot Hosts finally receive the bots, they’ll be actively involved with initial drive test in his/her neighborhoods (ie. testing for 4G coverage, sidewalk infrastructure suitability, missions design, etc).

This testing phase will typically take between 2-3 weeks.

Phase 3: Game is LIVE!

After thorough real-world testing in Phase 2, the hyperlocal game specific to the individual NounsBot will go LIVE on the game server. This means that gamers with the NounsBots GamePass NFT will be able to see the online bots on the global map and select the bot they want to play and start driving!

A leaderboard will also be setup to track the leading gamers ranked by their XPs & digital collectibles.

Phase 4: E-Tournaments

Once we start to have more than a dozen bots coming online, we’ll start planning for monthly LIVE Tournaments (for up to 6 months) where gamers can sign up as teams to compete against each other in scavenger hunt type of games.

We’ll experiment with various gameplay mechanics that may involve competitive or co-opt elements.

Phase 5: Global Grand Challenge

We will then take the learnings from the E-Tournaments and organize a BIG grand challenge that we hope to live-stream and build substantial publicity around the event.

PS: We’d love to work with who naturally understand eSports a lot better than us at FrodoBots!

Open-sourcing dataset for robotics research

There are data streams that will be collected whenever a gamer controls a bot. We do this for insurance proof but additionally, we intend to publish this robotics dataset under an open-source license so that the AI robotics research community can benefit from this dataset.

The FrodoBots team has experience doing this open-sourcing step and will carry out the necessary video redaction tasks (eg. blurring faces, car plate, house plate, etc) to preserve privacy (standard protocol expected for an open-sourced dataset that involves video).

This is another avenue to publicize about Nouns, this time to the AI research community.

Funding Required

Here’s a breakdown of the total funding required:

Details Costs (US$)
NounsBot Production 100 Bots @ US$1k $100,000
Shipping Costs 100 Bots @ US$150 $15,000
NounsBots Hosts Salary 50 Hosts @ US$800/mth for 6 mths $240,000
4G Data Plans 100 Bots @ US$80/mth for 6 mths $48,000
Insurance Global Coverage $10,000
Events Budget Incld. marketing for E-tournaments & Grand Challenge $10,000

Total proposed funding: USDC423,000

4. Misc

Why is FrodoBots interested in pursuing this partnership with Nouns?

We (FrodoBots team) are a small team of makers/tinkerers (remote team though we have a small production “garage” in China).

Over the past 1+ year, we’ve been building various prototypes and trying to pursue this vision of “Mario Kart in real life” gameplay. We think that this “virtual touring as an AR game thingy” can be a really fun gaming experience while we push the boundary of what a consumer-grade sidewalk toy robot can do.

A few weeks ago we were at the “3XP” gaming conference (with a couple of FrodoBots driving about at the venue) and we bumped into some members from who suggested to us about making a proposal here.

We hope that by partnering up, Nouns members & friends get to enjoy this “virtual touring game” while spreading the word about Nouns in real life settings in 20 cities around the world, while we (FrodoBots) use this opportunity to further fine-tune our robots and test out different game design mechanics.

PS: Pls note that we (FrodoBots) have been preparing (for last few months) an upcoming Kickstarter campaign although that will be targeted at individual owners highlighting self-use educational/content-creation use-cases, rather than multiplayer gaming.

Are these bots safe to operate in the real world?

Most folks’ first reaction about this project is whether these bots will be stolen or whether these bots will be safe to operate in the real world.

From what we’ve learned in the past months of testing in real-life conditions in 10+ cities (London, Vienna, Madrid, Stockholm, Berlin, Bern, Wuhan, Liuzhou, Singapore, Taipei, Palo Alto, San Diego, etc), we’ve not had a case of stolen bots nor have these bots caused any damage to surrounding.

These bots are relatively small in size (think MacBook Pro 16 size) and travels at a maximum speed of ~3km/hr (ie. slow walking speed). In other words, they’re much more likely to be bullied by nasty humans around the bot (not ideal but a better problem to solve than to have an unwieldy machines that appear menacing and therefore unwelcome by the local community) instead of being able to create significant damage.

To be extra safe, we’ve also gotten insurance quotation that’ll provide us global coverage for our robot fleet in case of any mishaps.

As for potential abuses directed at these bots, we found that the most important factor is the neighborhood that these bots operate in. This is why the initial testing period is so critical, so that we can iron out issues like 4G coverage, suitability of the sidewalk environment and the general attitudes of the local community towards our bots.

In general, we found that after the initial 2-3 weeks of daily testing where neighbors may be very curious or sometimes worried about the appearance of these bots, we (along with the help of the local hosts) will usually get to explain about our project to anyone interested to learn more (again, there’s a QR code on the bot that directs the humans to our info page where they can also chat live with our customer support) and thereafter the bots can typically just go about without much issue at all.

What happens to this project after the Global Grand Challenge?

We can submit for another proposal to Nouns to consider whether to continue operating these bots under the “private game server”.

If Nouns collectively decide that it no longer wishes to fund the ongoing operation, FrodoBots team will endeavor to seed out alternative funding source to continue operating these bots under a “public game server” (ie. no longer limited to gamers with NounsBot GamePass NFTs).

Would love the community’s feedback on how we can make this a reality :slight_smile:

Thanks @solimander for helping us resolve the “falsely marked as spam” issue!

Glad this is finally published; looking forward to the feedback from the community :grin: :pray:

interesting idea! are the game pass NFTs for sale at the discretion of the Nouns holder? (i.e. not tied in any way to the Noun itself) and will these be the only way a person can access this game?

Yup! The idea is that only players with the “GamePass NFTs” will be able to control any NounsBots.

Am thinking we’ll airdrop 5 of these NFTs to each Nouns holder and it’ll be up to the Nouns member whether he wanna keep all 5 or share some with friends. It’s an NFT so obviously once it’s in the Nouns member’s wallet it’s up to them what they wanna do with it :grinning: