“Should I stay or should I go?” That seems to be the only concern of the robot that features in a demo movie made by researcher at Brown University. It takes its gestured orders in a way that is easily associated with the way soldiers on a patrol would gesture to ‘stop’ or to ‘go’ to the next soldier in the line. Or at least it looks similar to a man of my limited experience. And having DARPA as a main sponsor also helps the association.

A first impression

It looks like they have done quite a good job with the robot, given the current state of gesture recognition. I especially like it that people don’t have to wear sensors. This is achieved in part by using a depth camera (the CSEM Swiss Ranger) Besides that, the recognition of individuals does still seem to be a bit shaky, since you appear to have to show you face quite clearly before it sees who you are (but then again, given current face recognition technology that is no surprise either, and they have actually done a nice job of getting it up and running in the first place).

The contributors:
Chad Jenkins, Brown University
Matthew Loper, Brown University
Nathan Koenig, USC
Sonia Chernova, former Brown graduate student
Chris Jones, iRobot

Technovelgy posted a good description (here) of the system and some first impressions and associations (lol @ the HHGTTG quote).

A movie of the robot in action, following people and taking orders by gesture (here).