NEW YORK (PIX11) – Two robot trash cans were recently tasked with cleaning up New York City, but the machines also had an ulterior motive.

Cornell University researchers wanted to examine how humans interact with autonomous objects. 

The robots, equipped with cameras and powered by recycled hoverboards, were deployed in Astor Place. The two robots were separated to collect both landfill and recycling.

The reactions of New Yorkers were mixed. Some people had fun interacting with the trash cans, while others steered clear. 

One woman was seen helping a robot after it became stuck. Another clip showed a man rewarding the trash can for moving toward him, calling him “good boy” after dropping rubbish into the bin.

Some people were seen negatively reacting to the robots. One observer called them “creepy.”

According to the researchers, the robots generally “encouraged social interaction among strangers,” adding that people felt pressured to generate garbage for the robots.