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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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  • ironic... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @05:46PM (#42220229)

    ...that the same human who had the birds wings clipped so it can't move has had to build him a fucking go kart so he's able to move around again.

    Fuck you, Andrew Gray, and the horse you rode in on. IF you haven't clipped its hooves at the knee, that is!

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

      by Duds ( 100634 ) * <dudley@enterspac ... minus herbivore> 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, Insightful)

        by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:02PM (#42220343)

        For the sake of argument, is it really that cruel? It doesn't seem as bad to me as docking a puppy's tail; primary feathers grow back, don't they?

        Mind you, a friend of mine had a beautiful white parrot when I was younger and he never had much trouble with it breaking his stuff. Perhaps instead of altering a pet to one's home it's better to alter the home to suit the pet.

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

          by cusco ( 717999 ) <brian.bixby@gma i l . c om> on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:57PM (#42220847)
          Grey parrots are 1) one of the most intelligent species of birds known, 2) one of the most destructive species of birds known. They're probably exceeded only by the New Zealand kea (which can remove every plastic part on the exterior of a car except for the tires in an hour) in destructiveness.

          I remember having to ferret-proof a house, I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it would have been if the critter had been able to fly too.
          • Why do you say greys are more destructive than other parrots? I would think macaws would be much more destructive. I have owned greys and also a blue and gold macaw and they seemed about equally destructive to me. You just have to parrot proof your house as much as possible. From what I have seen I think a Kea is much more destructive than most parrots. And they are omnivorous too! They used to be killed for killing sheep!

            • by cusco ( 717999 )
              Strictly what I've been told by an owner, never had birds myself. I wonder if the bird weren't bored much of the time, since the owner spent a lot of time at work.q
          • So... don't bring one into your house to live with you?

    • 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.

      • My birds have never had clipped wings and had no issue flying in the house. They prefer to walk, actually.
        • by jovius ( 974690 )

          To be honest that sounds like having cats inside the house their whole life. They will become depressed and bored because of the inability to be the animal they are. I believe that our view of the cats in general is based on a slightly false impression. Some may even regress into ritualistic behavior akin to caged animals. It's perplexing to see how the cats can brighten up and become completely different beings when they have a possibility to come and go as they feel like and be what they truly are.

          To witn

      • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @07:09PM (#42220937) Homepage Journal

        Just FYI, guys, it's not cruelty. You don't actually cut their wings, just their feathers


        That might explain why I got fired from Petco...

      • "Plus they have beautiful plumage, the Norwegian Blue"

        Aren't those the ones that are always pining for the fjords?

      • 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.

        If you were to keep a dog in handcuffs all the time so it couldn't run, I'm pretty sure it would be considered cruel despite causing no physical damage (except lack of exercise, which clipped wings will almost certainly also cause).

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

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:24PM (#42220541) Journal

      Andrew Gray, and the horse you rode in on. IF you haven't clipped its hooves at the knee, that is!

      It's not the wings that are clipped, just some feathers to keep it from hurting itself inside the house.

      We can disagree about whether or not any animal should be kept by humans, but clipping the feathers of a parrot so it doesn't hurt itself flying around the house don't really qualify as enormously cruel. Certainly not as "cruel" as forcibly neutering a dog or cat. Probably not as cruel as riding a horse.

      There is an argument about the lifespan of the parrot, though. He's going to live on average about 20% longer as a pet than he would as a free bird. We could ask the parrot whether he'd rather have some feathers clipped and live in a safe home with abundant food and no predators (plus a very cool scooter) or in the wild where his life will be much shorter, but he's not talking.

      Or maybe he is talking, since he's a parrot...

      • I believe the justification for clipping a parrot's flight feathers is to prevent him from escaping not from flying into things. Greys at least are pretty damn smart and fly into things about as often as most of us walk into walls. Just don't let him fly when he's drunk.

        • Until you consider things like windows and ceiling fans. Even smart birds have trouble with some obstacles, and it only takes one accident to do serious damage.
          • You may find this surprising, but all of the places in which my birds lived for years had windows and glass doors and there was not a single time that any even came close to flying into them. They are a lot smarter than you give them credit for. They don't fly into windows and glass doors for the same reason that you don't walk into them. They see them, know that they are there and that they are solid. Having said that, I don't tend to make any great effort to keep the glass clean.

            • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

              When a bird is in a panic, it will forget that the window glass is there -- even if it's consciously aware (under normal circumstances) of that glass. When startled, they will reflexively launch and head for a visually open passage. They may or may not gather their wits fast enough to remember it's actually a window. Fly first, navigate later. This reflex probably makes them harder most predators to catch, but it's also exploitable and many (human) hunters have used the startle reflex of birds to get them t

              • All birds are not the same. Some of them are probably not very bright. I've owned birds for years and I can't recall one being startled as you describe. Even when he meets a new person who comes to visit. Perhaps if you could be more specific about the particular species of bird and a more exact circumstance which could cause such a panic.

                Most of the time glass is not truly transparent. Not indistinguishable from air. If you clean your glass every day very thoroughly with a high quality glass cleaner it mig

                • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

                  The bird I had to coddle in a towel until it recovered from its collision-induced dizziness is a conure. I've also had to do this with a cockatiel for the same reason, but I am well aware that they just aren't all that bright.The conure, however, is quite intelligent and does not seem to be suffering any long-term effects. He had a bald patch over one eye for a couple of months though.

                  The event that startled the conure (and two parakeets that were also out and I had to chase down) was the wind-induced slamm

      • ...with abundant food...

        Now here's something that irks me, although not by fault of the owners/companions. I have had several budgies. One vet told me that standard issue parakeet food is like Big Macs for parakeets, i.e. very fatty, unhealthy and hardly nutritious. So actually, while I thought that I was feeding my parakeets properly, I actually wasn't.

        I never felt guilty for keeping parakeets. When properly trained, they are very social and intelligent and they appear quite happy for your companionship. However, in the end it a

    • In fairness, we have an African Grey that does not have his wings clipped, (I am generally opposed to clipping wings) and when he gets going he's as much a hazard to himself as to our things. (Things are replaceable. It's not something we worry about a lot. But we are concerned that he will injure himself.) He's actually reluctant to fly, preferring to be carried around instead.

      • Well, like us, they are all individuals. My greys were superb fliers and definitely prefered flying to walking. They only walked when the distances were very short. although sometimes they just seem to feel like walking instead of flying. I never saw them get into any trouble due to their flying everywhere instead of walking. We hurt ourselves too when we first learn to walk, but our parents don't restrict us to wheelchairs or ask us to crawl everywhere instead of walking upright. Of course I'm sure parrots

        • We used to have a cockatoo that would run around on the floor chasing the dogs. They were terrified of him. He was gonzo insane, not just for that but for many things. We finally gifted him to a local wildlife refuge.

          I read a story once of a parrot that was killed by a hawk right on the owner's back porch, so yes, birds are generally safer inside.

    • by ethanms ( 319039 )

      mod up...

      Agreed, I think it's pretty lousy to have these types of animals as pets--there is a reason birds go crazy when left alone in cages, they are too intelligent and not psychologically suited for domesticated life. Just because it's small enough to not seriously injure humans does not mean it's acceptable or suited to become a pet.

      Cats & Dogs have been domesticated over hundreds/thousands of generations... even today there are breeds of dogs that are clearly not suited for living mostly indoors--

      • It could be argued that the domestication process itself is cruel. Almost a form of genocide. Enslaving not just a single animal, but an entire species, just so we can have the living equivalent of a teddy bear.

        Ask yourself which you would prefer: being left alone in the wilderness with no food and having to worry about bears and wolves and other predators or being fed and taken care of by someone who really cares about you and wants you to be happy. How long would you even survive alone in the forest? Once

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

        by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @12:15AM (#42222997) Homepage

        > Cats & Dogs have been domesticated over hundreds/thousands of generations

        Cats are an interesting case in that, it appears that little domestication was needed. On the whole domesticated cats and their wild counterparts are quite similar.

        Turns out, our species had some very convinent properties for co-habitation.

        Their meat is not generally considered good, even amongst cultures where there is less taboo about eating a variety of animals. They, are under no delusion that we are prey.

        They don't eat much of what we do, only eating fairly freshly killed meat and occasional roughage. In fact, they mainly kill and eat the rodents that try to eat our food stores, and keep them away.

        On top of that, they are agreeably soft, purr, and stay mostly out of the way as they sleep 18 hours a day. Few places are safer to sleep than around us, and I bet that has been true since before we lived indoors. For cats, this was a perfect match.

        The average lifespan of a wild cat is only a couple of years. Companion cats can live upwards of 20. They hardly got the shit end of the stick.

    • Every time somebody whines like you just did I will eat the closest analog to the species they are whining about, that I can lay hands on.

      Tonight it's going to be quail - 4 of 'em - and you only have yourself to blame.

      • Every time somebody whines like you just did I will eat the closest analog to the species they are whining about, that I can lay hands on.

        Fuck the rabbit and the rocket he rode in on.

        Protip: if you put the tourniquet on and leave it there for an hour or so before removing your limb, it should be numb by the time you do. You'll want to have all the incredients at hand before you start, because going shopping with a severed stump could get ackward. Finally, it's unlikely that eating your own flesh can give y

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

      by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:03PM (#42221925) Journal

      ...that the same human who had the birds wings clipped so it can't move has had to build him a fucking go kart so he's able to move around again.

      Fuck you, Andrew Gray, and the horse you rode in on. IF you haven't clipped its hooves at the knee, that is!

      The bird is well looked after and you can tell that just by looking at it's feathers. The very fact that the bird knows how to *drive* the buggy means that it is getting enough attention to be healthy and the fact that his wings are clipped means that the bird has appropriate flight power for being indoors - from which we can deduce that the bird is completely domesticated and thinks of it's cage as it's own 'room' - so it also has it's own territory.

      From the video the bird only flapped it's wings to maintain it's balance, that means the bird *chooses* to play with the cart. Parrots are fast, manuverable birds, and just because it's wings are clipped doesn't mean it can't fly - it just means that it won't get out of control, frustrated, scared and hurt itself inside a house. If it was a wild bird then you might have a point. The guy owns a parrot, that's a 25-60 year commitment to a pet, so before you go judging the guy ask yourself if you could do the same thing.

      Honestly settle down with the political correctness, it's far more offensive than a parrot with it's wings clipped.

  • Welcome our new Robotic Parrot Overlords!

  • 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.

  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:15PM (#42220473) Homepage

    I tried t get my Norwegian Blue to drive a buggy but it just sits there and does nothing.

  • I wish my car had a toilet in the driver seat so I could crap freely while driving around.

  • ...is to get him into a quadricopter.

  • And here you see the primary use to which print newspapers are put today. All the dog owners and other pet owners use it to collect their pets' bowel movements.

  • by madprof ( 4723 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @06:34PM (#42220657)

    Forget parrots in buggies. What about dogs in real cars?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20614593 [bbc.co.uk]

    99% sure this is not a hoax.

  • this is COOL! And really cute too!

  • I have a 22 y.o. YNA (big green thing, 50% evil) who is very lazy. He would love to go motoring around the house in one of these things.
    • Yeah, watching the video the bird wasn't really using it for transport, it was playing with it more.

  • My parrot Bud has handled the steering wheel a few times and caused no crashes.... yet.
  • First off, I never realized that so many people here weren't familiar with the practice of clipping a pet birds flight feathers to prevent them from flying. Get a grip--it isn't painful and isn't even permanent, as the wing feathers do occasionally shed & regrow. If you really want to get worked up over something, go look up why the judges at dog shows always fondle the male dogs' testicles.

    Second, Andrew must not have heard the old saying about show business--"never work with kids or animals". . . .
  • I would love to integrate a Kinect sensor into this design and change the control scheme a bunch....

System checkpoint complete.