Pointers to the Leaf Project have been floating around cyberspace for a while now, but if it’s not on your radar, it should be. It’s fascinating work in open source AI and robot development being done at the Robotics Society of Southern California. It began as an Artificial Life program for Bruce Weimer. Robotics Society members saw the AI on the screen and thought it deserved a pair a of legs (or at least wheels). A robotic platform was developed, then Leaf was given sight via a webcam and vision software. Then more Leaf bots were built. The hardware and software is fully documented on the project’s and there’s a discussion group to encourage the creation of more Leaf bots and further refine the platform.
When I posted something about Leaf on my website Street Tech, robot builder J. Wolfgang Goerlich suggested substituting the on-screen animated head of Leaf with the WowWee animatronic chimp head. With a little engineering, it’s probably doable. We couldn’t decide whether the results would be way cool or way creepy (or a heady combination of both). – [Gareth Branwyn]