Guy brushes his cat via Nao robot avatar

With a little help from Kinect, Wii, and a treadmill, Aldebaran's Nao humanoid robot finds a new role as a telepresence cat groomer.

Nao: Reach out and brush someone Ed Alcock/Aldebaran Robotics

Telepresence robotics applications continue to get curiouser and curiouser. For instance, how about grooming your cat via a humanoid robot avatar?

That's what Tokyo-based software engineer Taylor Veltrop did with a Nao robot from Aldebaran Robotics.

Veltrop devised an interesting control apparatus for Nao, a popular research robot known for its RoboCup soccer skills.

He wanted to manipulate Nao from a distance, so a treadmill and Kinect were used to navigate the bot, while a head-mounted display controlled Nao's head while showing its camera feeds. Veltrop could thus see through Nao's eyes.

A Wii remote and the Kinect were used to control Nao's arms, including the task of using a brush to groom a cat.

As seen in the vid below, it took patience and practice to get the job done, but Nao stands up, orients itself, takes a brush, and gets busy as Veltrop orchestrates its movements like a puppeteer.

The cat seems to enjoy the brushing, flicking his tail a few times, and doesn't complain too much when Nao inadvertently hits it on the head. The job done, Nao backs away, sits down, and waves goodbye.

It's a very cute experiment. Veltrop is now aiming to hear and speak through Nao and his head-mounted display.

Can remote-controlled robot haircuts be far off?


 

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