Guys, they've done it. Somebody has created a robot that I don't want to smash with a bat. The only thing this cute little guy has the chance to enslave is the cat he's been trained to brush.
Let's back up a bit. The robot hasn't really been trained - it's actually controlled by a human. Oh, that's cooler? Yeah, you're right.
Developer Taylor Veltrop spent the better part of 2011 constructing this little gem - a system that allows him to get in the mind of a two-foot tall NAO robot, and use that control to thoroughly satisfy or seriously annoy (honestly, who can tell with cats?) his feline companion.
Veltrop hacked a Kinect and uses two Wii remotes to control the bot's arms. He then uses a treadmill in correlation with the Kinect to control the bot's movement. A head mounted display allows him to control the bot's head as well as see through its eyes.
The result is this: an amazingly elaborate scheme to brush your cat. Enjoy:
And oh look! There are plans for more:
After doing this exercise, it became apparent that the next feature to add is hearing and speaking through the robot. Luckily both the NAO and my HMD have microphones and speakers so this shouldn't be too difficult.
You can debate whether or not this project deserved a year of someone's life. Hey, maybe this invention will allow people with extreme cat allergies to interact with kitties via robotic surrogate? Who knows. But one thing you can't argue is that it's nice to see a robot given a task that doesn't threaten human life as we know it.[Hat Tip to Engadget]