Tankbot, a member of the Desk Pets portfolio of toys, is a diminutive and almost anthropomorphically cute tank that can be activated in a variety of modes. You can drive it via remote control with an app on the iPhone through an operating procedure similar to that of a zero-turn lawn mower (which you learn more about in How Zero-turn Mowers Work). Or you can set it up to automatically navigate a maze of office supplies that you construct, like stacks of files, coffee mugs, pen holders, computer accessories or any other objects you have on hand to build an obstacle course.
When roaming free, if it approaches an impediment, the two lights that shine like eyes from the front panel of the tank grow large in surprise and the toy proceeds away from the collision course. If there's a barrier on only one side of the tank, just one eye bugs out in alarm. Gadget lovers will find themselves rooting for this little guy as he tries to find the path of least resistance. Just ensure he meets no cliffs, as Tankbot it unable to detect dangerous desk edges.
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MIT's AlterEgo allows people to control computers without ever uttering one word. HowStuffWorks looks at how this could change the way we communicate.