Dillon Lareau

Electrical and computer engineer, maker, and general nerd.

Daily Walk Bot

My first twitter bot!

To get the links out the way quickly: Twitter account and Github repo.

I wrote most of this bot my senior year of college because I was bored and thought it would be cool to write a twitter bot (Upon further reviewing history, I apparently did it to procrastinate from homework).

The bot was inspired by an idea my friend Owen had about a leaf blowing around and tweeting it’s location. I liked the idea of the random traveler and adopted the format to be a random walker. Using a simple python twitter API, tweepy, and the google maps API, I threw together a script that would generate a random walkable path using google maps and tweet details about it. A few iterations later, I had made it walk a random path each day made up several smaller random paths each of which was tweeted out as the destination location text, an image of the destination in google maps, and a link to the google maps pinpoint. It is important to note that it would tweet these segments out in real time. If it took 2 hours for the segment it just tweeted to be walked according to Google maps walking directions, the bot would wait 2 hours before making the next tweet.

This worked great for a day or two, but I had it starting at my house each day and going from there, which quickly got repetitive. The initial motivation was that if I wanted to, I could actually follow these walking directions one day and it would be a nice full day walk. I quickly gave up on that idea and in a landslide poll victory the bot was changed to continue its journey wherever it left off the previous day, hopefully going on some epic journey. And boy did it go:

Progress as of 12/19/2017
Progress as of 12/19/2017

As you might notice, there are some trends to the random path. I get to control the general direction that walkbot travels and not much more (Technically I control the weighting of all 4 cardinal directions). I’ve used this to make it bounce nicely around the US.

Some interesting interactions along the way:

Walkbot visits Hershey Park
Walkbot takes a ferry to cross the Hudson
Walkbot decides to visit Long Island via ferry
I get sick of how many ferries walkbot is taking...
Walkbot changes direction for the first time
The internet decides the next direction
Walkbot leaves the US for the first time
Walkbot interacts with local government after getting stuck
Second time leaving the US, this time with more Mexico