Engineer uses programmable robot with Wii and Kinect to pet a cat

Just so you know it’s not all doom and cold, metal gloom when it comes to stories about our future robotic overlords, here’s a nice story that combines the internet’s love of robots with the internet’s love of, well.. cats.

Oh, and there’s some interesting elements for gaming fans in this one, too.

Software engineer Taylor Veltrop recently posted a video showing the culmination of a year’s work making a programmable Nao robot into his fully controllable, cat-grooming robotic avatar. In the video, Veltrop uses a combination of Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect controllers, a treadmill, and a head-mounted display to make the robot first approach the cat, and then begin brushing his feline subject.

As you can see in the video (posted below), Veltrop’s interaction with the robot is based on several levels of input. He sees through the robot’s eyes using the head-mounted display, and moves the robot around using the treadmill and the motion-sensing abilities of the Kinect.

Possibly the most interesting element of his experiment, however, is the use of Wii and Kinect controllers to manipulate the robot’s arms and hands and sense his movement in space.

Also interesting? The fact that the cat doesn’t flip out and either run away or swat at the robotic creature approaching it with no small amount of noisy, jerky movement.

According to Veltrop, the next step in his experiment is to incorporate audio input and output mechanisms into the robot — something he says shouldn’t be too difficult, given the microphone and speakers already present in his head-mounted display.

(via Kotaku)

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