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ALLL HAIL ROBOKITTY
June 18, 2013 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Swiss Researchers develop a robot that runs like a cat.
posted by The Whelk (54 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Best part at 58 seconds when it looks like they're walking robokitty on a leash.

Silly scientists. Kitties don't use leashes.
posted by phunniemee at 7:23 AM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


One step closer to Fluffy's Master Plan For World Domination.
posted by plinth at 7:31 AM on June 18, 2013


That's not how a cat runs. That is, however, how a cat quickly skitters right before he bursts out into a full run. Which is probably the funniest of cat movements.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:34 AM on June 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Curiously, the robot won't go through a doorway without a lot of dithering.

The robot, however, does scatter litter around the test space much more evenly that an actual cat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe I could use this to trick my cat into using a leash. "Hey, look -- the robokitty is doing it -- why don't you?"

(This would probably just get the robokitty beat up when my back was turned.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:36 AM on June 18, 2013


Declawed and desexed are disagreements we're used to. After watching this video, however, maybe de-headed is a new argument we need to have (I'm anti de-heading, myself).

Also: augh! Will no one think of the native robot birds?!
posted by barnacles at 7:36 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Get it to chase a laser pointer and my cat will find herself looking for a job.

Kali, this is New Kitty, she doesn't poop or beg for treats. Don't let the cat door hit you on the way out.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:36 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]



Sarah Connor: [narrating] Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Catastrophy Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the robokitties. The computer which controlled the robokitties, Catnet, sent two Meowminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Meowminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:38 AM on June 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now I want a video of it meeting BigDog and getting chased up a tree.
posted by fight or flight at 7:39 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Silly scientists. Kitties don't use leashes.

Sure they do. They make fine cat toys. Esp. when one end is connected to a dog.
posted by eriko at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, that's a robot that runs like a chihuahua. Or trots, actually – you'd think a robotics lab would know the quadruped gaits.
posted by nicwolff at 7:43 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Finally, something to eat all these damn robot snakes, spiders and mosquitoes.
posted by mediareport at 7:46 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's not how a cat runs. That is, however, how a cat quickly skitters right before he bursts out into a full run. Which is probably the funniest of cat movements.

Metroid Baby has it. They're basically failing utterly at doing the rotary gait (gallop) and instead falling back to the safe-default lateral gait (trot). Which means the thing is not going to be anywhere near as fast as a cat, and in fact, doesn't actually run like a cat, it merely skitters.

That robot would die a million deaths in the bog standard cat riot we had going on at Chez lfr this morning, ferinstance.

apropos of nothing, both of our cats will voluntarily and willingly walk on leashes, because they've learned this is the only way they're allowed to explore the BIG FANCY INTERESTING world outside our front door. Despite that they have a whole fancy escape-proof fenced-in back garden to free-roam, but that's another story.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd enjoy this more if I didn't know for sure it would be used in the next wave of combat drones.

My time-traveling neighbor shakes his head and says, "What did I tell you? DEATH CATS."
posted by JHarris at 7:52 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have visions of these things darting between your legs, locking in on the actual target, and detonating. They're the new land mine.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:56 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Leash-trained cats do exist; our younger cat will walk on a leash, though she's figured out how to wriggle out of the harness. The other cats I've attempted to leash-train have all immediately transformed into surly, immobile rocks of passive resistance, like so.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:02 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


....looks like someone has been reading my elderly world-domineering tortie's Christmas list.
posted by Kitteh at 8:11 AM on June 18, 2013


Most of my cats got pretty used to being on leash, but it was a given that when Fergus had his put on while in the house, he would instantly turn into Stone Kitty. Once he was lifted through the doorway and put in the yard, he would immediately regain the use of his limbs. It was a miracle!

I'm waiting for the galloping robot cat. Skittering kittehs make me sympathetically nervous, especially when they're OMFG HEADLESS.
posted by maudlin at 8:15 AM on June 18, 2013


Yeah, I have visions of these things darting between your legs, locking in on the actual target, and detonating. They're the new land mine.

I'm a bit stressed and fatigued, but the only actual target between my legs is my – oh dear god a scrotum-hunting mobile RUNNING land mine? Dear god man you've just made my nightmares exponentially worse
posted by kurosawa's pal at 8:25 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


NOT FLUFFEH.
posted by sweetkid at 8:26 AM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


yea the whole headless bit ramps up the creepy / uncanny valley of that thing to like eleven.

Metroid Baby - have you tried using the kitty "holster" or "jacket" designed harnesses that are specifically designed for cats so as to wrap around them snugly? Because exactly zero of our cats would walk in those figure 8 strap harnesses either - they hate them and will either flip the fuck out or pull that World's Heaviest Harness trick. The kitty holsters / walking jackets (wide, cloth-and-velcro design) are both apparently more comfortable / less pinchy and the Mynwood ones I use also have the leash dee at the back (girth) so the cat can't wriggle / back out of them.

I've had completely un-harness-trained cats walking in a Mynwood jacket within five minutes of putting it on. They will roll around a bit at first, and our big Ragdoll took off like a furry little bucking bronco the first time I put his on, but once they get the fur all settled out and figure out that it's not coming off no matter what they try, they shrug it off and then I pick them up, take them outside and snap the lead on and it's OMG THE BIG BRIGHT WORLD LEMME EAT ALL THE GRASS NOW PLZ SO I CAN PUKE IT ON THE RUG LATERZ, etc...
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:29 AM on June 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


have you tried using the kitty "holster" or "jacket" designed harnesses that are specifically designed for cats so as to wrap around them snugly?

DO WANT

especially for youngest chubby kitty
posted by Kitteh at 8:30 AM on June 18, 2013


Kitteh, email the nice lady on that second "jacket" link and she will custom make you one to the exact specifications of your chubby kitty, and they're affordable enough that you can upgrade to bigger ones as chubby kitty grows. Like, roughly $20-$25 US shipped, and we get them from Yorkshire, UK to Boulder, CO in right around ten days.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:34 AM on June 18, 2013


Lonefrontranger, we have been looking for a more comfortable and secure cat harness. Thanks for the recommendation!
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:41 AM on June 18, 2013


can upgrade to bigger ones as chubby kitty grows

We are hoping to reduce her not enlarge her! In any case, thanks!

This is the chubby kitty in question.
posted by Kitteh at 8:49 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


We are hoping to reduce her not enlarge her!
ah well, in that case - despite the custom measurement you wouldn't believe how wide of an adjustment those long velcro straps afford. I'd been using the 15-lb Ragdoll's harness on the 9-lb kitten and it just...barely...worked although it did basically cover the little dude nape to tail, we were able to snug it up enough to prevent him escaping.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:54 AM on June 18, 2013


Now let's see it land on its feet.
posted by ardgedee at 9:05 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh and in the interest of retrieving my own derail - it looks to me that these robot makers default to the lateral gaits for concerns of stability. I would posit that neither the spine flexibility nor the balance algorithms of robot "animals" are currently up to the task of handling a true gallop. As noted here in this robot gait study, I'm not sure they've even bothered trying yet. A true gallop requires a LOT of fore-aft balance shift and corresponding spinal / hip flexibility.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:06 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


lonefrontranger: "Kitteh, email the nice lady on that second "jacket" link and she will custom make you one to the exact specifications of your chubby kitty, and they're affordable enough that you can upgrade to bigger ones as chubby kitty grows. Like, roughly $20-$25 US shipped, and we get them from Yorkshire, UK to Boulder, CO in right around ten days."

I must look into this. I've got a twenty-pounder (but it's not chub. that's 20 lbs of muscle. Kitty has washboard abs. If he weren't such a lovebug he'd be dangerous).
posted by radwolf76 at 9:15 AM on June 18, 2013


I think they are comparing it to cats for clickbait. It's definitely more reminiscent of one of those nervous little yappy dogs.
posted by bleep at 9:17 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


UPDATE!!!
SwissRoboKitty has unexpectedly horked-up it's first hairball! And on researchers' best pair of shoes, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:23 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've built a robot that behaves much more realistically like a kitty on a leash. It consists of a rope tied around a cinderblock that I drag down the sidewalk.
posted by chortly at 9:43 AM on June 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


but has it peed on their clean laundry yet?
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:03 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


That thing is freaking me out.
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on June 18, 2013


Aaaand in other creepy-walking-things news: vampire bats.
posted by nicwolff at 10:58 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock kitty cat robot."
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:02 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Atom Eyes wins thread thanks everyone
posted by sweetkid at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2013


"Please put down the cheese. You have 20 seconds to comply."
posted by entropicamericana at 12:33 PM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hard to tell from the video, but since the robokitty doesn't have a head (containing a brain with evil, evil thoughts and nasty sharp toofs), then it's probably declawed, and I'm also assuming it can' t poop on the rug, pee on the bed, or spray without its hind-ender parts. Nevertheless, do not underestimate the robokitty. He could still take your face off.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:49 PM on June 18, 2013


oh dear god a scrotum-hunting mobile RUNNING land mine?

Well, these aren't new: Bouncing Betty.

War sucks.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:48 PM on June 18, 2013


yea the whole headless bit ramps up the creepy / uncanny valley of that thing to like eleven.

That's where the payload goes.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on June 18, 2013


You're a kitty!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 6:07 PM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


APPROACHING UNIT HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A KITTY.

posted by JHarris at 8:46 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want one to pick on my live kitties.
posted by deborah at 8:59 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll bet that thing could knead your stomach for days and days without stopping. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.
posted by orme at 5:59 AM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's what it does, that's all it does, and it absolutely will not stop - until you are snuggled!
posted by Artw at 6:07 AM on June 19, 2013


Wait a minute. Cats, Camels, and Giraffes use the same side step. If the front left foot goes forward, so does the back left foot. If the front right goes foward so does the back right. Back to the drawing board...
posted by xjudson at 8:05 AM on June 19, 2013


Actually, cats can trot or pace, but they often switch to a pace when tested on the treadmill. This PDF explains Why Cats Pace on the Treadmill. See also.
posted by maudlin at 8:09 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pacing, that's that movement mode where the body stays level but the legs move around rapidly to provide locomotion? Because that's one of the less-discussed adorable feline behaviors.
posted by JHarris at 11:10 AM on June 19, 2013


JHarris - that's slinking

Trot - a 2 beat diagonal gait using opposing fore and hind legs (so R front, L rear come forward simultaneously).

Pace - a 2 beat lateral gait using synchronous fore and hind legs (so L front, L rear come forward simultaneously). Also known in equestrian terms as "side wheeling" owing to the strange rocking motion it produces.

Source: a youth spent doing far too much dressage plus some side work jogging Standardbred colts for the farm across the road.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:59 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


ehh, xjudson, I'd argue that what camels and giraffes do is more akin to ambling, actually. It's not a true binary gait anyhow.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:11 PM on June 19, 2013


oooh robot giraffe!
posted by sweetkid at 12:12 PM on June 19, 2013


German Researchers Build Robotic Apes to Explore the Moon
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on June 27, 2013


First robot fish with autonomous 3D movement
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on June 28, 2013


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