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Robotics Science Technology

Parrot Drives Robotic Buggy 182

grrlscientist writes "Proving that robots aren't just for people any longer, an African grey parrot, Pepper, has learned to drive a robot that was specially designed for him. Pepper, whose wings are clipped to preventing him from flying around his humans' house and destroying their things, now manipulates the joystick on his riding robot to guide it to where ever he wishes to go. This robotic 'bird buggy' was the brainchild of his human companion, Andrew Gray, a 29-year-old electrical and computer engineering graduate student at the University of Florida."

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Parrot Drives Robotic Buggy

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  • Re:ironic... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Duds ( 100634 ) * <> on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:48PM (#42220245) Homepage Journal

    You can report his site as it's google hosted on the grounds of cruelty to animals.

  • Re:ironic... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:03PM (#42220357)

    Grey's are large birds, too large to really fly in an average house. It may not be able to fly between rooms due to narrow hallways and clutter anyway.

    I have a couple of smaller birds, fully flighted and they're not really happy about needing to fly to chase you. Often they'll scream at you instead.

    Also you guys might temper your anger realizing that wing clipping is temporary. You clip their wings once a month or so, because all you're doing is cutting the outermost 4 flight feathers back. These fall out and grow back (trimmed or not). For most birds this is enough to make flying very difficult.

  • Arms Race (Score:4, Informative)

    by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:08PM (#42220407)

    You know what this means right?

    Cats with roller skates.

  • Re:ironic... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:08PM (#42220411)

    Just FYI, guys, it's not cruelty. You don't actually cut their wings, just their feathers, and you have to keep cutting them because they grow back all the time.

    But, I do agree that this is totally unnecessary. Parrots are very smart, can be trained, and are fucking birds - totally capable of moving around without a crappy golf cart. Don't clip him, just train him to not do whatever it is he was doing wrong. Plus they have beautiful plumage, the Norwegian Blue. Mine's been really quiet since I got him, though. I think he's pining for the fjords.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:24PM (#42220543)

    Don't get your panties in a knot unless you know more.

    Well, I'm not GP but I am a parrot owner so I'd like to "get my panties knot".

    Removing a parrot's main form of movement is comparable to keeping a dog on a leash in one corner of the house, all the time. What's cruel is removing their ability to fly and after that it's just semantics whether you clipped their wings or feathers. Removing a parrot's ability to fly and forcing them to move only where human decides they should move, when human decides they should move there, is a horrible thing to do to animals as intelligent and independent as parrots. It also tells about very twisted attitude towards the pet: Anyone who considers taking a parrot and does some research (and you really should research as they tend to live many years or even many decades) learns that they do tend to chew on stuff. If your reaction to that isn't "I'll have to come up with enough toys for him to chew that he doesn't touch much else" or "I'll have to study positive reinforcement a bit and train him" or "I'll have to come up with a way to keep some things out of his sight" or "Okay, I can't have a pet like that" but rather "Oh, I'll just clip his wings", there is something very wrong.

    My parrots fly freely around the house whenever I'm awake and at home (when I'm asleep or at work, I have to keep them in cages for their own safety). They don't tend to ruin anything too valuable though they do occasionally ruin book covers, photo frames and the like... which I knew they would do when I got them six years ago.

    For the record, the practice of clipping parrot wings (which means clipping the wing feathers) isn't really alive in many countries anymore (here in Finland it certainly isn't recommended by either of the large pet bird associations).

  • by lightBearer ( 2692183 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:29PM (#42220593)

    With larger birds such as African Grey's, there is a really high risk of injury to the bird if they are allowed to grow up flying inside a house. Young birds do not understand glass for instance, and will attempt to fly into it, ultimately doing harm to themselves. To offset this, the non-permanent wing clipping is employed to prevent them from taking flight. This doesn't prevent gliding, however, so they can still leap safely off ledges to the floor to get around. Once they're older, you have to take into account that the nearly or fully grown bird has never flown, so you keep clipping the wings as they don't know how to use them.

    I've never owned a Parrot but I grew up with one and my parents opted to not clip his wings. The net result was a lot of snapped feathers and a bird with neurological damage from running into things full tilt. Not pretty.

  • Re:ironic... (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:11PM (#42220961)

    Actually greys have no problem at all flying in the average house. I have had greys in 400-600 sqft apartments and they can fly just fine through all the different rooms. Also a grey can walk nearly as fast as that cart can move. In addition to wings they do have perfectly good legs and can cross an average sized bedroom in seconds on foot. After having kept clipped birds and birds with full flight feathers I would never keep them clipped ever again. I love when a bird can fly to my shoulder whenever he wants and it's such a wonderful ability that they were born with. Even if they can only fly indoors I still think it's better than nothing.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer