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Robotics Science

WETA Working on Robotic Lizard For Science 92

Posted by Zonk
from the i-want-me-a-robo-bunny dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "The tuatara, which is both related to lizards and snakes, is one of the planet's oldest reptile species. It's been living in New Zealand for about 200 million years. Scientists still don't know much about their behavior, so they've asked Weta Workshop, a Wellington-based company known for its work on 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, to build a robotic male tuatara. It is equipped with cameras which will help the researchers to discover how real male tuatara attract and keep females. The goal is to help conservation managers to the genetically fittest, most productive males. But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?"
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WETA Working on Robotic Lizard For Science

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  • Er...how? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ambvai (1106941) on Monday June 11, 2007 @01:35AM (#19462603)
    Maybe I'm missing the point here... but are they trying to replicate the appearance and behavior of an animal to study the behavior of real version of the animal? ...I sense a logic error. But really- what about all the chemical signatures? Hormones, pheromones, various smells, etc.
    • by pimpimpim (811140) on Monday June 11, 2007 @02:47AM (#19462825)
      I agree. Imagine that realdolls [www.realdolls] are actually a scientific project from aliens, equipped with cameras and wireless transmitters, for the sake of studying human replication behaviour. Now imagine the kind of image these aliens would get from human replication behaviour, this would be rather skewed, wouldn't it.

      Also imagine how the slashdotters will behave towards their realdolls after having read this. Or better, try your best not to imagine any of this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by suv4x4 (956391)
        I agree. Imagine that realdolls [www.realdolls] are actually a scientific project from aliens, equipped with cameras and wireless transmitters, for the sake of studying human replication behaviour.

        Realdolls is what we, humans, can produce. I'm sure that a Tuatara also can't build a realistic model of itself with great success. But we're kinda more intelligent than them and I'd say we could fool a lizard, if we try hard enough.

        There's no information what would a scientific project from aliens would do to tes
        • by pimpimpim (811140) on Monday June 11, 2007 @03:36AM (#19462967)
          Ah, your comment gave me the solution! Indeed, the Tuatura is, by itself, hardly able to use the tools needed to buy themselves a robot Tuatura for their casual sex pleasure. So, what do they do? They leave their Tuatura planet and start a milion year journey through space, until they found a planet with creatures that have opposable thumbs. These creatures were dumb as shit, but that was not a problem for the Tuatura, as they can influence any creature with their mind waves. Now, this doesn't go particularly fast, also because Tuaturas tend to stop doing anything at night. But they don't mind, they have time enough anyway. What is happening now, and all our technological advancement in general, is just nearing its end in the creation of the final goal, the robot Tuatura sex slave. Damnit man, we're voluntarily building it for them! And you call us more intelligent than them! Did anyone ever gave YOU a robot sex slave for free?

          I have additional evidence for the Tuaturas being aliens, so it must be true: Remember that Poster in the creationism museum telling us that after the fall of Eden it was harsh work for all of us? Well, think about what Tuaturas do all day! They just sit around on a warm rock in the sun waiting till some small insect comes by that they eat. Is that harsh labor? Also, isn't this an extraorddrinary intelligent way to spend your day, instead of working your ass of for a meager salary? These are not from here dude.

          • by suv4x4 (956391)
            Did anyone ever gave YOU a robot sex slave for free?

            Yup, and she was a hot porn star, but when I said "I agree, but without cameras", and they gave up.
          • Yes, clearly Tuaturas are more advanced than humans. On the second page of the linked article it says that Tuaturas have methods of avoiding aggression. Humans, on the other hand, kill other humans [democracynow.org] over anything that will make money, like restricting the supply of oil to make more profit.
          • by rvw (755107)

            Did anyone ever gave YOU a robot sex slave for free?
            Yes! It came in the mail together with a giant penis enlargement.
          • Ha ha ha, I thought you were gonna say they were looking for the answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
          • by Barryke (772876)

            But they don't mind, they have time enough anyway. What is happening now, and all our technological advancement in general, is just nearing its end in the creation of the final goal, the robot Tuatura sex slave. Damnit man, we're voluntarily building it for them! And you call us more intelligent than them! Did anyone ever gave YOU a robot sex slave for free?

            I like your comment. Actually that's how i see the world. (even before i read Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy) We're just planted here to get our hivemind harvested. *readjusts tinfoil glasses*

            • by pimpimpim (811140)
              Ah, indeed, I forgot but indeed I must have gotten this idea subconsiously from HGTTG. I also still think of HGTTG everytime I am hungry and there is dubious old stuff in the fridge. Part of my mind tells me not to eat it, the rest tells me it might kill any potential alien parasite I might have. Thanks for all the fish, Douglas Adams!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by HTH NE1 (675604)

          I'm sure that a Tuatara also can't build a realistic model of itself with great success.
          They've been around for 200 million years! I think they know how to make realistic models of themselves with great success.

          Thus our interest in their mating rituals.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by NMerriam (15122)

        Imagine that realdolls [www.realdolls] are actually a scientific project from aliens, equipped with cameras and wireless transmitters, for the sake of studying human replication behaviour. Now imagine the kind of image these aliens would get from human replication behaviour

        King Xyylax! We have studied the human mating behavior for years and now know precisely how it happens! Once the woman is boiled, coitus is brief, then the woman is doused in bleach before she is thrown in a closet and covered with dirt

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      But really- what about all the chemical signatures? Hormones, pheromones, various smells, etc.

      It seems you missed something important. Like the fact that the point of this is to learn something about its behavior. They will find out if that shit is even important. I could make an argument for it going either way. My parrot tries to hump me, and I'm not even the same goddamned species, so who knows what they will find.

  • I for one... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by TwistedEvo (974889)
    "But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?" Welcome out new Cyborg lizard Overloards.
    • by MonkWB (724056)
      I wouldn't call this redundant, kinda like saying that you do obviously welcome blah blah blah.
      It seems we need a mod for stupidity cause that isn't, I don't think, redundant.
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      More likely, she'll sue Weta for sexual harassement and make big money in court.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sgt_doom (655561)
      Why don't they just come to the USA and borrow our very own robotic lizard, Dickie Cheney???
  • A Female? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fractalVisionz (989785) on Monday June 11, 2007 @01:36AM (#19462617) Homepage
    Wouldn't they want to use a female to learn about male behavior instead of a male. Yes, with a male they can do aggression tests with robot vs. animal. However, with a female that attracts males, they can see real animals vs. animal aggression and behavior.
  • They're gonna build a stud Tutuara? I think their females are a little more discerning then that!

    They should build a female, I've met some pretty crazy females and they do quite well.

    Male [Tutuara's] just aren't that discerning.

    :P
    • by dwater (72834)
      I would have thought that a fake alpha male would make attract all the females and make all the real males feel totally inadequate, so making them go off feeling all sorry for themselves since they're not good enough for the females. If a female loses her way on the to the fake alpha, I males would go, "Oh, you don't want us inadequate males! No, you want to go over there with all the other females and that *huge* stud." ...and, thus, another species bites the dust thanks to mankind.
    • by dreamlax (981973)
      It's tuatara, not tutuara.
  • ...they'll probably sell it in their Tutuara sex shop. Probably marketed under iTutuargasm trademark...
  • WTF is a Tutuara?
    Could we at least get the name right in the title?

    Tuatara
    • by dotgain (630123)
      Apparently not, Zonk has now edited the heading to something completely different.
      Oh well, at least it's proof that slashdot 'editors' don't just copy and paste.
      • by mabinogi (74033)
        Which would be fine, except that Tuatara are [i]not[/i] lizards. Reptiles, yes, and they're certainly related to lizards, but they're not lizards - they're older than that.
    • Roland Piquepaille submitted it.

      Zonk posted it.

      What more is there to say?

  • by shawn443 (882648) on Monday June 11, 2007 @01:47AM (#19462649) Homepage
    lizard bar + lizard booze + sexy lizard whore = some bad ass lizard dominance.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2007 @01:48AM (#19462657)
    Mark Tilden is the father of robots that mimic biology. What he has clearly demonstrated is that behavior, especially in insects, obeys very simple rules.

    His insect robots have almost no processing power and yet mimic the behavior of real bugs very well.

    Based on Tilden's experience, it would seem that these lizard? experimenters may actually be on the right path.

    http://home.earthlink.net/~douglaspage/id25.html [earthlink.net]
    • by Bob-taro (996889)

      What he has clearly demonstrated is that behavior, especially in insects, obeys very simple rules. His insect robots have almost no processing power and yet mimic the behavior of real bugs very well.

      Interesting, I'll bet I could make a robotic /. poster. I'd just make some minor variations to Eliza [www-ai.ijs.si]. For example:

      "Dup. Wasn't WETA Working on Robotic Lizard For Science months ago?"
      "I was Working on Robotic Lizard For Science for the last 10 years. Nothing new here."
      "What is the carbon footprint of WE

  • YAY, now I can get an evening of peace while his lizard love bot entertains him!!
  • Extinction (Score:4, Funny)

    by N. P. Coward (953833) on Monday June 11, 2007 @01:53AM (#19462667) Homepage Journal

    But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?

    Complete Satisfaction?

  • Let me just say that endangered tuatara's taste delicious.

    *ducks*

    Just kidding. Spotted kiwi birds [wikipedia.org] and little blue penguins [wikipedia.org] taste much better.

    All joking aside, we've got got a lot of truly unique wildlife here. I feel fortunate to have seen some of these, even if only at the zoo.

    -Peter
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Let me just say that endangered tuatara's taste delicious.

      *ducks*

      Just kidding. Spotted kiwi birds [wikipedia.org] and little blue penguins [wikipedia.org] taste much better.

      All joking aside, we've got got a lot of truly unique wildlife here. I feel fortunate to have seen some of these, even if only at the zoo.


      Zoo, huh. Is this the NZ for "restaurant" :P?
  • like playing Leisure Suit Larry.

    Lounge Lizard? Get it? funny? ok, i'll take a seat over there.
  • I wonder if this robot is related to a certain movie arthropod.
  • The're not lizards! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kithrup (778358) on Monday June 11, 2007 @02:16AM (#19462733)

    The tuatara isn't actually a lizard (any more than a crocodile is). They're pretty neat reptiles -- as a poster notes below, they have a "third eye" (they're not unique in this regard, some iguana species do as well, but not as well-developed as the tuatara's) -- and they require cold temperatures. Non-New Zealand zoos that get tuatara have to have triple cooling methods.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Mod parent up.

      A tuatara is actually a Rhynchocephalian (literally meaning, 'Beak Head'). It is not a lizard, because of it's skull structure.

      Us New Zealander's are lucky enough to have some amazing wildlife, and the tuatara is a perfect example of this fact.
    • by fm6 (162816)
      Yes, but they look like lizards. OK, if you look real close there are some interesting differences (no penis!). But reminding people that a tuatara isn't a lizard is sort of like making an issue of the fact that the peanut is actually a kind of bean [nutsonline.com].
  • These guys are suspicious to me. They make feautre movie CGI animation, statues, robots, clothing lines, steampunk guns, paintings, magazines and comic books.

    I'm telling you, it's all a huge scam, an experiment to push us and see at what point we realize it's all a reality game. Right? Right!?

    I... I wanna work there :(
  • 'The tuatara, which is both related to lizards and snakes'. I'm going back long years, and knowledge changes, but I don't believe that that quoted above is correct, except in a very general and meaningless way. As I remember they are a remnant of the dinosaur era.
  • It will happen the same as when human females discover you are a geek...
  • by codeButcher (223668) on Monday June 11, 2007 @03:04AM (#19462865)
    That's almost like equipping an android (or in lieu of that, a geek) with cameras to figure out how "real" men "attract and keep females".
  • Robot sex (Score:3, Funny)

    by Chiasmus_ (171285) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [elobrepyh_hallotaya]> on Monday June 11, 2007 @03:06AM (#19462873) Journal
    It looks like, basically, what's been created is a realistic robot tuatara designed to attract females and essentially turn them on sexually through dominance displays. And at least in theory, it's real enough that they can't distinguish it from the real thing. If we have this technology - why are we wasting it on lizard-snakes?? Where's my robot girlfriend?
    • Gee, Mavis... your house is all the way across the street. That's an awful long way to go for making out. *kisses Monrobot*
      • I, for one, would like to see the tuatara version of a Lucy Liu-bot.
        • by ajs318 (655362)
          No, no, no! Haven't you seen the Public Information Films?

          If people start dating robots, they won't feel the need to do bizarre and outrageous things in order to impress the opposite sex (or, in some cases, the same sex). As a result, human progress will come to an end, and society will stagnate!
  • "But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?"

    Satisfaction guaranteed [wikipedia.org]
  • Can people please stop capitalising the name. It's Weta Workshop and Weta Digital.

    A weta is a big fuck off insect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weta [wikipedia.org]

    Also, it's pronounced Wet-a. Not Weeta.
  • Huh? (Score:1, Funny)

    by edittard (805475)

    The tuatara, which is both related to lizards and snakes
    It's both related to them and what? Shares a house with them? Perhaps they all own a business?
  • WETA? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Domstersch (737775)
    What's with the capitalization of the title? It's not like "WETA [wikipedia.org]" stands for anything.
    • by Agelmar (205181) *
      When I first read the title, I thought they meant WETA as in the PBS station in Washington, D.C. that is responsible for a good chunk of the nation's public tv programs. I too wondered why they put "Weta" from "Weta Workshops" in all caps.
  • If they don't get it -just- right that robot is going to look freaky. Like some sort of zombie lizard... robot.
    • by FauxPasIII (75900)
      > Like some sort of zombie lizard... robot.

      If they could somehow make it a ninja and/or a pirate, they could win at the Internet. (Without even playing!)
  • But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?"

    She'll bite his nuts off. (Maybe a few of his bolts as well...)

  • and put some realtree camo on it!
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday June 11, 2007 @12:37PM (#19466857)
    But what will happen if a female tuatara discovers that the robot is an impostor?

    The same thing, I suspect, that happens with human females:
    She'll be very satisfied, until the batteries die.

  • This seems like a odd union. WETA is a great company for massive parallel computing. Since when have they been in the hardware/robotics biz? Could see this being more appropriate if the had requested some kind of simulation software to be run, but not to create a robotic lizard.

    To me this is like asking Oracle to make an iPoodle.

    • by burgess (6209)
      clearly you haven't seen "Brain Dead" (fake sheep) or "Meet the Feebles" (fake muppets)
    • The confusion here appears to be between Weta Digital and Weta Workshop.

      Weta Digital [wetadigital.com] is the _digital_ effects house, with all the computer support that entails, however, it is actually the younger of the two companies.

      Weta Workshop [wetaworkshop.co.nz] is a _physical_ effects shop and has always been into hardware and robotics/animatronics.

      As another poster mentioned, Braindead [imdb.com] (Dead Alive in the US) and Meet the Feebles [imdb.com] predate the Digital side of the business and more recent films, like Black Sheep [imdb.com], are more animatro
  • Data! Is that you? "I am fully functional and skilled in various methods of pleasuring"
  • by cgreuter (82182) on Monday June 11, 2007 @06:30PM (#19471579)

    I just want to say that this is the coolest Slashdot headline I've seen in a while. All it needs is proper capitalization and punctuation:

    WETA Working on Robotic Lizard FOR SCIENCE!!!!!!!111!!!!eleven!!!

    And for best results, do a Magnus Pike impersonation when reading it.

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.

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