A Cat-Petting Robot? It’s More Likely Than You Think

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The three coolest things on the Internet — engineers, cats and videogames — have come together to create an event so legendary, so nerdgasm-inducing, that the world may never fully recover from the blast wave of awesomeness that is spreading through the ether even at this very moment.

Software engineer Taylor Veltrop has hacked together the popular Microsoft Kinect and Nintendo Wii videogame systems and a Nao research robot to design a remote cat groomer.

Veltrop wanted to manipulate the robot from a distance, so he used the motion sensor from the Kinect and a treadmill to make the robot walk. He used the robot’s camera feeds to see through its eyes and orient it in space, and the Wii remote allowed him to move the robot’s arms.

Veltrop’s video, which you can see below, shows the amazing kludge in action.

The feline victim — er, I mean, subject — kept his cool through the whole experiment. The robot’s noisy, jerky movements didn’t faze the cat in the least, and he even stayed calm when the robot accidentally bopped him on the head with the grooming brush.

Veltrop says the next phase in his experiment is to use the robot’s microphone and speakers to listen to, and talk to, the cat.

Do robots dream of electric cats? We may soon find out. But for now, I’ll stick with a living, breathing cat-sitter when I need to be away from home.


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

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