Sneaky robot uses background noise to mask its presence

We have robots that walk, fly, swim, and even run, and now we have a robot that can expertly "sneak." Researchers at the CSIRO Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Australia have developed a new kind of stealthy robot that only moves when background noises will serve to mask its presence.

Equipped with a camera, laser scanner, laptop computer, and a sound pressure level meter, the as yet unnamed four-wheel robot has the ability to predict how long background sounds like cell phones, vehicles, and animal calls will persist, allowing it to time its own movements and sound emissions for maximum stealth.

A paper describing the development of the robot, authored by Matthew Dunbabin and Ashley Tews, explains the reasoning behind its creation:

"As real robots have non-negligible acoustic signatures and operate in large unmapped environments, a methodology to combine visual and acoustic stealth is required… We have demonstrated and evaluated a method that estimates the robot’s acoustic signature in real-time in addition to reliably predicting its contribution to the sound pressure level observed at the target."

The robot can apply its sound calculations to subjects up to 160 feet away, and even has the ability to map terrain for shadowed areas best for hiding. The paper also claims that future versions of the robot will incorporate gaze detection to help it to avoid visual discovery, and we'll leave it up to you to imagine where you won't see (or hear) this robot show up in the entirely too near future.

CSIRO, via New Scientist

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