Take one Nao robot, a Kinect sensor bar, a couple of Wiimotes, a treadmill and a head-mounted display – oh, and a patient cat – and you can do what software engineer Taylor Veltrop has achieved: use a remote robotic avatar to pet your kitty. In a new video demo, Veltrop shows how he can remotely control the 21-inch tall robot, walk it around his kitchen, grab a brush and groom his cat.
It’s apparently the culmination of a year’s work, and though you may not see the value in using a ‘bot costing several thousand dollars to keep a cat’s fur silky-smooth, it’s a big step forward in domestic telepresence. The Kinect and Wii remotes are used to control Nao’s arms, while the sensor bar and the treadmill track movement; meanwhile the head-mounted display shows Veltrop what the ‘bot can see, as well as moving its head according to his own movements.
Next up is two-way audio using the integrated microphone and speakers, and perhaps some practice so that the cat doesn’t end up clawing Nao to pieces. This video is apparently the second attempt at a remote grooming, and it still includes such painful gems as “Oh, did I just punch him in the head? Sorry kitty.”