Robots for parrots

African grey parrot, Pepper, perched atop his special robot, the “Bird Buggy”, designed by his human companion, Andrew Gray.

Proving that robots aren’t just for people any longer, 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. It was inspired by Pepper’s growing frustration with his human family’s rude behaviours.

Here is much more, with videos, and I like the subtitle of the article: “Now, for the first time ever, a parrot has successfully trained a human to design and build robots specifically for the parrot’s use and entertainment.”

For the pointer I thank Vic Sarjoo.


I may just be a little naive, but why would you first clip the wings of a (at a guess) 1.2 kilogram parrot so that it can't fly around smashing things, and then giving it a robot so it can have tracked mobility all over the place?

Besides, I am sure the guy means well, but isn't this how the Daleks started out?

"Besides, I am sure the guy means well, but isn’t this how the Daleks started out?"

Just make sure you live in a house with stairs. That's Dalek protection until they get the hover drive.

There go all the handy-capped parking spaces

So now a motorized cart is a "robot?"

Who knew that Henry Ford starting selling "robots" more than a century ago?

You apparently missed that it can find a docking station autonomously.

When a car driven by a parrot collides with a car driven by a dog, who is at fault?

The Most Emailed 'New York Times' Article Ever
David Parker | January 20th, 2011

It’s a week before the biggest day of her life, and Anna Williams is multitasking. While waiting to hear back from the Ivy League colleges she’s hoping to attend, the seventeen-year-old senior at one of Manhattan’s most exclusive private schools is doing research for a paper about organic farming in the West Bank, whipping up a batch of vegan brownies, and, like an increasing number of American teenagers, teaching her dog to use an iPad.

For the last two weeks, Anna has been spending more time than usual with José de Sousa Saramago, the Portuguese water dog she named after her favorite writer. (If José Saramago bears an uncanny resemblance to Bo Obama, the First Pet, it’s no coincidence: the two dogs are brothers. Anna’s father was an early fundraiser for Barack Obama; José Saramago was a gift from the President.)

Anna takes José Saramago’s paw in her hands and whispers in his ear. He taps the iPad and the web browser opens. José Saramago gives a little yelp.

“It’s entirely conceivable that a dog could learn simple computer functions,” says Dr. Walker Brown, the director of the Center for Canine Cognition, a research facility in Maryland. “Word processing, e-mailing, even surfing the web: for many dogs, the future is already here.”

In Anna’s bedroom, decorated with the trophies and medals common to young achievers, José Saramago is on Facebook, the popular social networking website. He’s helping Anna organize an event to raise money for her greatest passion: sustainable ibex farming.

What? No data on breed-to-breed differences in canine IQ?

According to Stanley Coren, Border Collies are smartest, Afghans dumbest.

Another theory is that mutts are the smartest because they are descended from dogs who figured out how to get out of the yard.

Sounds like the list is conflating ease of trainability and urge to work with intelligence, but, you've gotta admit, Afghans are pretty dim.

Does this count as tool using?

Andrew Gray reminds me of the government: it clips your wings and then brags about the elegance and sophistication of the robot it made for your to replace a fraction of the functionality.

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