Robot Penguins Spy on Real Penguins

Scientists and filmmakers love to deploy robots in disguise to spy on real animals. They've sent drones to film herds of elephants and zebras in Africaarmored mobile robots to photograph Kenyan lions, and animatronic apes to get close-up footage of bonobos. Now the BBC has sent 50 special cameras, including robot penguins that can walk and swim, to get inside penguin colonies and capture never-seen footage of the adorable flat-footed, tuxedo-clad birds in their natural habitats.

For their documentary "Penguins: Spy in the Huddle," the BBC hired John Downer Productions to build a variety of special penguin-cams to film three different species. These spycams were not just the typical remote-controlled cameras hidden in a fancy case. One of them, the RockhopperCam, is a walking penguin bot with 20 degrees of freedom, equipped with gyroscopes, accelerometers, and high-def cameras. According to the producers, it can walk over different terrain, stand up if it falls over, and its computer is preprogrammed with 75 different "penguin motions." Other spycams included the EmperorCam, ChickCam, SnowCam, EggCam, Underwater PenguimCam, and the SnowballCam. From the trailer below, it looks like penguins are ready to welcome their robot overlords.

Image: John Downer Productions

Via [ CNET ] and [ BBC ]

Advertisement

Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
 
Contributor
Jason Falconer
Canada
Contributor
Angelica Lim
Tokyo, Japan
 

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Automaton newsletter and get biweekly updates about robotics, automation, and AI, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Advertisement