09 May 2008

Robo-rodent

Even in his tough guy "Terminator" role, Arnold Schwarzenegger might not know how to resist the nut-begging antics of this one Amherst, Mass. squirrel: Rocky the Robotic Squirrel is part of a behavioral experiment undertaken by scientists at Hampshire College. And he has a lot in common with Arnold because he is a mechanized life form (without the trademark angry scowl of AHHHHNOLD's "Terminator" role). Perhaps we should call him The Squirrinator.

As he twitches his limbs and barks his prerecorded squirrel noises, his every movement is computer-controlled by researchers watching, through their binoculars, from not too far away.

(Here's the link to the story, http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jvzEsptLwUXYQOaQm5WrTA_8e-cwD90DNC501,
graciously provided by Poetikat, who has proven herself time and time again to be a true lover of squirrels, both furred and robotic.)

Rocky's mission is to interface with the real live locals, flick his tail, stamp his feet and crack the code (if not a few nuts as well) on how the local bushytails communicate. You would think in a New England college environment, the curriculum on this campus might simply opt to offer Squirrelese in their Department of Foreign Languages, instead of having to resort to such extremes. I guess, however, Rocky was born (or constructed) to learn the lingo through "language immersion."

The question remains: Once Rocky has gotten an "A" for his efforts and compiled the lexicon, what next? Perhaps Hampshire can offer adjunct professorships for some of the more eloquent squirrels living on campus - with Rocky, because of all his efforts, presiding over them as chairrodent of the department?

So he's not the Squirrinator after all. Just another "Nutty Professor."

20 comments:

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Now why didn't anyone want to fund me to do this sort of research!

pranjal said...

hi there,try to write in brief & short.

Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

squirrels were made when 'shine' men fell in love!!!

Alfred said...

I had a robot once. I say robot, it was more a lego model of a duck

Sweet Caroline said...

That's funny - What a small world!

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Anonymous said...

Hampshire doesn't offer grades, that's why I went, but it does sound typically Hampshire to create a robot squirrel. How life-like is 'robo-rodent'? Any pictures, by chance?

Katie said...

cute blog. I was just thinking about Groundhog's day yesterday and wondering when it was because I didn't hear much news about it this year... evidently it passed a while ago, haha

Poetikat said...

Grooooaaan! That last line is a killer!

I'd love to see a picture of this Squirrinator. Do they actually expect to fool the real guys? Somebodies need their noggins knocked together. I imagine they are getting paid for this as well (and not just peanuts).

I would think the locals would high-tail it out of range of this metal invader (or is he at least fur-clad?) and run home to have a good chatter about it with their next-of-kin. Kind of reminds me of Looney Tunes - sort of a Wile E. Coyote's ACME antics up against Chip and Dale's droll commentary
(only with squirrels and scientists).

Kat

The nuts aren't all in the trees.

Poetikat said...

I posted a response, but I'm not sure it went through - didn't get the usual "blog owner approval" message.

Kat

Poetikat said...

Check your e-mail - I've sent a link to the Robosquirrel.

Kat

muhibmahbub said...

Erm..nice blog

Divyam - Trying to be strong... said...

that was funny

Brett said...

Fantastic, don't you just love the little critters

Vineeth Sukumaran said...

I've bookmarked!

vickysplace1 said...

I showed my male boston bull terrier dog named "Spot The Fox" the Robo-rodent. His ears went up and his eyes sparkled, then jumped towards Robo and barked. Um, I wonder how that would effect a squirrel study? Best Wishes Vicky

Vineeth Sukumaran said...

Here are two photographs of indian palm squirrels
(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/27/36783468_009110a20f.jpg)
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2082/2056188487_5b41aeea98_o.jpg)

It has three white stripes on its back, which is explained in Indian Mythology, Ramayana to be given by the Lord Rama. So they are considered to be sacred and are not harmed in India.

Vineeth Sukumaran said...

Here are two photographs of Striped Indian palm squirrels
(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/27/36783468_009110a20f.jpg)
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2082/2056188487_5b41aeea98_o.jpg)

The three white stripes on its back is explained in Indian Mythology, Ramayana to be given by the Lord Rama.(Story here: http://www.healingstory.org/crisis/squirrel/how_squirrel_got_stripes.html) So they are considered to be sacred and are not harmed in India.

squirrelmama said...

Thank you!! I love those striped squirrels, and I have meant to do a blog post on them for months now, ever since a friend of mine sent me a link to the story - about how the tiny squirrels helped build the bridge and were given great thanks and blessings as a result. You have reignited my inspiration to do so, and I will make it a priority. People need to know this story. I wish all squirrels were as loved and valued as the beautiful ones in India.

K.C. said...

You just never know what kind of research is being done in the world! KC