Oct. 22, 2012 at 6:53 PM ET
A humanoid robot that may someday evolve into a fearless firefighter aboard U.S. Navy warships has become infected with the "Gangnam Style" dancing virus.
Luckily, the CHARLI-2 robot does not have a real computer virus. But its human overseers at the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech decided to make the robot bop along to the viral South Korean pop song by artist PSY — even sneaking in the infectious song's signature horse-riding and lasso-waving moves during the new YouTube video (see below).
Dancing robots almost seem a dime a dozen these days, so CHARLI-2's display of dancing prowess doesn't represent anything special as far as robotic capabilities — it manages the arm movements rather more successfully than the leg moves. The robot has done much more in its day job as a humanoid research platform capable of walking and playing soccer.
Still, the robot's dancing has gone viral on its own with more than 252,000 views since being posted on Oct. 19. YouTube reactions predictably range from "Arnold Schwarzenegger will do this dance in Terminator 5" to an all-caps exclamation of "SKYNET IS ONLINE!"
In any case, the Virginia Tech robot's record certainly impressed the U.S. Navy — the Navy envisions CHARLI-2 as a forerunner for creating a Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) that could work with human sailors to battle fires aboard warships at sea.
SAFFIR would need to have the capability to handle fire hoses, throw fire extinguisher grenades, climb ladders and maintain its balance as it walks the decks and corridors of Navy ships.
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