We've been following Taylor Veltrop's Nao teleoperation saga for, uh, well... It feels like it's been forever, but I guess it's only been about a year since Veltrop, a Japan-based roboticist, had a robot doing push-ups for him. But there's more to teleoperation than just virtual exercise: There's also virtual pet pampering, and it involves Nao, a Kinect system, a treadmill, a bunch of cameras, and one exceptionally tolerant cat.
There's a lot going on here. The system consists of a Nao (of course), a Kinect sensor, two Wiimotes, a treadmill, a camera mounted on Nao's head, and a head-mounted immersive display system for the user that also control's Nao's head and neck. So, put all this together, and Veltrop (the user) can walk forward and Nao walks forward. Veltrop can turn, and Nao turns. Veltrop can pick up a brush and start beating on a clearly uncomfortable cat, and, well, yeah, there you go.
I have to say, this is a fairly remarkable feat of robotics that Veltrop's come up with. It's also worth noting just how much of this was accomplished based on off-the-shelf (and relatively inexpensive) sensors combined with some intense cleverness. In just the last few years, the availability of cheap and open source software and hardware has enabled people without giant research budgets to do some amazing things that just haven't been possible before, and with sensors like the Kinect 2 to look forward to, the near future is going to be awfully exciting for robots and humans. And cats.
[ Taylor Veltrop ]