Like most pet owners, Jordan Correa and his wife had been forced to stare into their new pup Darwin’s big-Puhlease-don’t-leave-me eyes one too many times. Both having full time jobs, the Correas were all too familiar with the guilt that comes with leaving Darwin at home. But unlike the majority of us who merely overcompensate with the standard pouch bribes – a new bone, an extra long walk or spoon full of peanut butter (guilty) – Correa, trained in robotics, set-out to put a stop to Darwin’s 9-5 loneliness by building a sort-of robopup companion.
The result is what Correa fittingly named DarwinBot – a telepresence robot controlled by Correa at work, and able to play with his dog as a surrogate companion. DarwinBot has a few tricks up its wirey sleeves like ball-launching & retrieving capabilities, speakers allowing Darwin to hear Correa’s familiar voice and undoubtedly Darwin’s favorite feature – a treat dispenser.
As a developer for Micorsoft’s robotics division, Correa naturally programmed DarwinBot using Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio and outfitted his robopup with a Kinect camera system for obstacle avoidance and ball retrieval. All of which are controlled by Correa over the Internet using a XBox 36o controller.