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Microsoft robotics developer builds remote dog-sitting bot

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February 16, 2012

Jordan Correa, a robotics developer with Microsoft, built a dog-sitting robot that lets th...

Jordan Correa, a robotics developer with Microsoft, built a dog-sitting robot that lets the owner interact with his dog over the internet

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When Jordan Correa and his wife both started working full time, they found themselves away from their home much more often, leaving their dog, Darwin, alone all day. Most people would have just had to leave the problem as is, or maybe get a part time pet sitter. But Correa, being a test developer for the Microsoft Robotics Team, came up with a solution right in line with his talents and built a dog-sitting robot, so he could play and speak with his pet over the internet while he's at work.

Using the Parallax EDDIE hardware platform and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4, Corr...

Using the Parallax EDDIE hardware platform and Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4, Correa constructed a robot that can interact with his dog much like he would himself, which he named the "DarwinBot." A Slate PC on the front lets the owner speak to his dog over Skype, while a dispenser on the side can distribute treats on his command. The DarwinBot can also play fetch, thanks to a ball launcher on top and a robotic arm that can retrieve the ball after the dog drops it in front of it.

Aside from attachments and the main components that provide motion, the bot uses a pan-and-tilt camera to look around with, a webcam connected to LEDs to locate and pick up a ball, and an Xbox Kinect sensor to avoid obstacles while moving around. Everything is controlled with an Xbox 360 controller, which the owner uses remotely to drive the robot around and activate its various features.

Although DarwinBot might not be available in a store near you anytime soon, dog and cat owners who wish to play with their pet via the internet might be interested in the iPet Companion system. It allows users to remotely control two pet toys, while watching their animal's reactions in real time using a webcam.

Check out the video below to watch Correa demonstrate the DarwinBot in action with his own dog, Darwin.

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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7 Comments

I would think that a dog would like that thing about as much as it likes a vacuum cleaner. And by the first photo, it doesn't look to thrilled:)

philly
16th February, 2012 @ 02:15 pm PST

Pretty expensive chew-toy for most dogs

Ozuzi
16th February, 2012 @ 03:03 pm PST

This thing was made on a TV show a year or two ago,one that creates technological,and so called innovative answers to the "problems of today":)I think he might be riding somebody else's gravy train.

David Whyte
16th February, 2012 @ 07:06 pm PST

Um great achievement but does anyone else see a problem with the basic premise: ...so he could play and speak with his pet over the internet while he's at *work*

Madz
17th February, 2012 @ 01:48 am PST

He must work for the Government.

alaskaken
17th February, 2012 @ 04:59 am PST

I wonder if the dog would play with it on it's own if the device was made to activate when the dog placed a ball in the device's receptacle.

Mark Keller
17th February, 2012 @ 11:19 am PST

A truckie friend of mine once said any dog that can fit in a microwave is just a meal. My dog is not allowed inside the house; she once chewed an entire vacuum cleaner to small pieces. That robot would amuse my dog but it would last about 30 minutes as a chew toy. In fact with treats inside it is just a doggie pinata.

Light_Lab
18th February, 2012 @ 02:31 pm PST
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