Everything cool in technology eventually becomes mundane. I think history shall record that robots, once the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, crossed this threshold when they began picking poop off the floor.
Ben Cohen and friends at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP lab recently took the wraps off this awesome new technology, named POOP SCOOP (Perception of Offensive Products and Sensorized Control of Object Pickup). Hello, Ig Nobel prize.
Shown off at IROS 2011 in San Francisco, the $400,000 poop picker-upper IDs turds based on their color against a uniform green field. It then autonomously navigates to the spot and deploys a commercially available scooper, dropping the poop in a bucket.
The bot can grab about one poop per minute and has a success rate of about 95 percent. That's better than me when I walk my sister's dog, but PR2 can only grasp relatively solid piles. Cowslips will require more research.
At least we can count on Rover's love for a little longer.
(Via IEEE Spectrum)