We don't know why, but this made us a little bit sad. Must be The Fear.
A study took place in Osaka, Japan to determine how socially-interactive robots are treated by children in an open, public place.
A small robot, programmed to navigate a shopping centre alone on its own accord without human help, was set up with hidden cameras placed near by.
In almost all instances, people regarded the robot and moved on. However, one group repeatedly targeted it for abuse over and over again - children.
Specifically, children without parents or adults nearby.
The hidden cameras observed kicking, pulling, hitting by little kids - so much so, in fact, that they had to factor this very aspect into its programming.
As you'll see in the video, the robot was reprogrammed to essentially either avoid children entirely or find an adult and stick close to them so the children would refrain from hitting them.
The study's main aim, as far as we can tell, was to help with social programming for the robot. That said, we can think of a much better option for the robot to prevent this kind of thing happening again.