It could almost be the set-up for a vaudeville-style joke: How does a one-legged robot get to the hall of fame?
Two decades ago, a gadget called the 3D One-Leg Hopper marked a breakthrough in robotic locomotion. It looked a lot like a birdcage frame that landed on a pogo stick, but its agility--relatively speaking--set the stage for two- and four-legged robots that followed.
This week, Carnegie Mellon University paid homage to that peg-legged machine and a pair of its nimbler successors, inducting them into the school's Robot Hall of Fame. Also among this year's honorees is Lego's Mindstorms, the toymaker's bid for 21st-century cachet--who knows, it could become for today's children what Erector sets were for an earlier generation of budding engineers.
The Robot Hall of Fame isn't just for gadgets, however. In previous years, the inductees have included Hollywood creations R2-D2, HAL 9000 and the sad little boy from Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: AI. In that category, the ranking officer in the 2007 crew is Lieutenant Commander Data, the android played by Brent Spiner on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.