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back to article Boffins build headless robo-kitties

Swiss scientists have built a trotting robotic house cat, and say that the form factor could prove very useful for small and agile search-and-rescue robots. Robot cat Keep it away from your mouse – though it can't bite Cats – big and small – hold a particular fascination for robotics engineers (and for much of the internet, …

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Bronze badge
Joke

Imagine what this article would sound like had the research been conducted in China...

"This morphology gives the robot the mechanical properties from which cats benefit, that's to say a marked running ability and elasticity in the right spots, to ensure stability," explains Alexander Sprowitz, team scientist.

Transliteration: "This texture gives the robot the culinary properties from which cats benefit, that is a marked spiciness and chewiness in the right spots, to ensure balance in the wok," explains Foo Man Chew, restaurant chef.

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A saucer of WD40

Skynet loves its fluffy kittens. With their glittering lazer eyes.

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Silver badge

Re: A saucer of WD40

It probably coughs up oily clumps of aluminum and carbon fiber that leave terrible stains on your carpets.

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Happy

"The robot is thus naturally more autonomous."

"Ok, send the robot in to search the building."

"Err, I would, Sir, but it's currently having a nap in the sun on top of the truck..."

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Joke

Re: "The robot is thus naturally more autonomous."

"Maybe making them solar powered was a mistake..."

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Re: "The robot is thus naturally more autonomous."

"The robot is thus naturally more autonomous."

If it doesn't like your lab, it will quite simply decide to move in to the lab next-door.

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Silver badge
Happy

Shock Assemblies & Boodog

I'm almost certain the shock assemblies in the first pic are from an OFNA R/C racing buggy.

Also, couldn't they have just given it a head? I realize it would be superfluous but without one it looks like boodog:

http://www.mongolfood.info/en/recipes/boodog.html

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Anonymous Coward

Not bad for a first attempt

Could do with some more fur. Does it walk on keyboards yet?

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Bronze badge

Re: Not bad for a first attempt

lgholiukbiyf l;oikuyfvuyf

houigiu7tfr oiuuffcyuvcuytdf

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Silver badge

Re: Not bad for a first attempt

No, but it does sit on any piece of paper you have put on the desk and are trying to read.

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With a convenient carrying handle.

Why don't all cats have one of those?

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Bronze badge

Re: With a convenient carrying handle.

Actually, that "handle" appears to be a spine linking two halves. I wondered about it briefly, then took a closer look.

Did a bit of mental math on it and found, a cat it is not. A cat is far more flexible.

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Re: With a convenient carrying handle.

Fear not, there is a retro-fit option available... just google for Tabby Tote

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds legit

All the benefits of a pet without the messy side effects and vet's bills.

Something breaks? Take it to the shop and they upgrade it to Pet v2.0 for you.

I can see this being used for elderly people, who probably won't notice the gentle hiss of pneumatics or the slight noise from the cooling fans.

Plus it is a hell of a lot less invasive than being hooked up to monitors and it can be used to monitor for other

issues such as falls without the person being forced into a nursing home.

Hell, everyone who was "thinking about getting a pet" but wasn't allowed due to unhelpful landlords can get one of these, its not like a robot notices being put in standby mode when out at work.

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Silver badge

Re: Sounds legit

"wasn't allowed due to unhelpful landlords"

As an ex private landlord, I'm pretty sure 'no pets' carries no legal weight whatsoever. It's less hassle to have a clause that says "pets welcome" and to put in a provision for reparations, and it makes you look better too.

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Go

oo-er!

There's a short circuit in Mrs. Slocombe's pussy!

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: oo-er!

You owe my employer a new keyboard.

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Obstacles

Am I the only one who thinks that passing obstacles 20% it own height is less than impressive? A house cat can jump over two meters up -- from standstill. So until the robot becomes a high jumper and a proficient climber of trees, I would not call it cat-like.

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Re: Obstacles

I can't recall the last time I saw a housecat jump more than two meters up. Most have owners to help them with that, signalled by mewling and squawks to get their attention....

Steven R

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Re: Obstacles

Totally agreed.

Although 2m from stand still is probably a touch too much for a cat but 1.5m should be easy enough. It does need to be precision jump though onto the top of a 5cm ledge, or even a wall which it can then also stroll along.

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Silver badge

Re: Obstacles

Much as I like cats, you really do not want a robot to be cat-like. Consider the difference with dogs when you throw a stick. The dog runs after it and collects it. The cat looks at you as if to say: "Hey, you threw it, you go get it." I consider this a clear indication of the more advanced intelligence of cats, as compared to dogs.

A simple rule of thumb is:

A dog has a master

A cat has house-mates

A Siamese cat has grooming staff

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Gold badge
Devil

Re: Obstacles

My friend's neighbours' owner cat doesn't feel that it's being fed sufficiently. So it wanders round to his for dinner. But this isn't acceptable, as it beats his cat up - and nicks it's food of course.

It's a warm Summer's evening, but the windows and doors are all closed, to avoid incoming feline menace. Except one of those tiny little transom windows you get at the top of double glazing. And that was only open a bit.

I heard the bang as the cat missed the first time, so saw it do this. It leapt from the ground, from a standing start to a height of just shy of 2m. Quite high ceilings in this house, so I'd guess the window was my head height, 6'. It had one front paw outstretched, and ran this up under the open pane of the window, and hooked it over the bottom of the window frame. Then dragged itself up by one paw, using its nose to lever the window open and sort of pour itself through the gap and onto the windowsill inside. A very impressive feat of acrobatics.

It then wandered off nonchalantly to the kitchen for a quick bite to eat.

Devil icon, because we're talking about cats here.

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Happy

Re: Obstacles

"Hey, you threw it, you go get it."

I always caption that one as; "If you wanted it that much, why the f*ck did you throw it away, dickhead?".

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Happy

Re: Obstacles

2m is probably a stretch too far, but 1.5? sure! I remember my cat eyeing the top of my wardrobe from the desktop and thinking "kitty, you're being over-ambitious there". But he gathered himself up and... bounce... there he was. Not straight to the top, but getting his front paws on was enough to get him started and he was on top in a jiffy. One of his favourite places, that wardrobe-top :)

To the original commentard... got to start somewhere, so yeah, 20% of own height is fairly unimpressive (so is 5km/h by the way) BUT it's only a start. Consider it the equivalent of a small kitten who can hardly walk yet. We'll have jumping robot cats in no time :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obstacles

A 2-metre standing vertical jump is credible for a cat, especially one which has made a habit of pissing in someone's back yard to the extent that deterrant measures (compressed air can, triggered by PIR detector) have been employed.

I have film of this occurring; cat landing, cat getting terrible though harmless surprise, cat accelerating 2 m vertically to escape from horrible hissing monster. The claim is quite credible.

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Terminator

Re: Obstacles

I think the 20% is quite impressive for a robot. The Asimov could barely do steps, and that was at about 5% of its height, with stereoscopic processing and some significant processing power!

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Terminator

Dreaming androids

I'm holding out for an electric sheep.

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Joke

Re: Dreaming androids

Could this one satisfy you, m'lord?

http://www.muttonbone.com/inflatable-sheep-specs/

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Anonymous Coward

Kitty Kit

The two quoted uses for this type of ambulatory robotic technology is nearly always search-and-rescue and the military. Two important but extreme applications.

What else can you do with a robot cat?

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Re: Kitty Kit

Deal with those pesky robot mice.

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Coat

"...the mechanical properties from which cats benefit..."

If that were true it would be hinged in the middle so it could lick its own arse.

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Terminator

Does it always land on its feet?

Then you can drop a few from a plane into a war disaster zone for a search and destroy rescue mission. It could even carry a small warhead med kit. What a terrifying terrific invention!

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re. Does it always land on its feet?

Hi, has anyone read that article about wax encapsulated nanotube muscles?

Also, a lot of people don't seem to realise that e-muscle technology has moved on a lot since the early days and now cycle times in the 50-200ms range are routine.

Aaaaand this weekend's project:- DIY e-muscle using:- Graphite powder, some "common household chemicals", paraffin, lasers and some kludge-fu that would put "Macgyver" to shame :-)

Bonus, use a Raspberry Pi for the brain, or preferably two and use the waste heat from the CPUs to keep the muscles at working temperature using a circulatory system filled with methanol/water or some other energy source.

AC/DC x520

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