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Shh! This Robot Uses Your Noise As Its Disguise

robotThe Human Advantage going into the unavoidable future war with the robots is well on its way to extinction, thanks to all those silly humans who call themselves scientists that are just building a bravado-soaked house of cards, where one-upsmanship will act as the catalyst in our inevitable downfall. Oh, dammit, while I was loudly doomsaying, a swarm of robots got in here and murdered everyone else.

I’ve lowered my voice to a monotonous whisper for the rest of the story, since Australians Matthew Dunbabin and Ashley Tews, of the CSIRO Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Brisbane, have created a robot that functions mostly by using sound detection to assure its actions go unheard. The as-yet-unnamed four-wheeled robot is fitted with a camera, laser scanner, laptop, and a sound pressure meter. And when these powers combine, you have Solid Snake-bot that uses sounds and background noise to cover its tracks, predicting how long and how often the sounds will occur, and sneaking around when it knows it won’t be heard.

If you’re in a silent room having a cell phone conversation with your mother, and you have pissed off the Robot Army enough that they’re sending someone to “take care of” you, that robot can foresee your side of the conversation by guessing the frequency and length of your responses, and only creeps up behind your back during those times. The robot also knows its own noises, and can gauge how they change as it goes faster or slower, and when turning around corners. It can tell how its sound is perceived from 150 ft. away, and adjusts itself accordingly. The laser scanner allows it to find and utilize shadows or other quality vantage points as it advances upon its prey. So quit hogging the conversation the next time you talk to your mother, let her get a word out or two every now and then.

The robot tested well picking up the sounds of cell phones, forklifts and birds, correctly predicting their sound patterns. So, maybe this thing isn’t trying to kill anyone. Maybe its first purpose will be used for animal photography in the wild. Ideally, these devices will be able to achieve never-before-seen shots that a human just wouldn’t be able to get to. I wonder if they’ve taken into account the different frequencies that certain animals can hear more than others.

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