You know that you've not only made it, but made it some time ago and are now considered somewhat embarrassingly uncool, when you get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That's why somewhere Brent Spiner is weeping into his velour jumpsuit and broken Broadway dreams with the news that Lt. Commander Data of the USS Enterprise is one of this year's inductees into the Robot Hall of Fame. I say "somewhere," because he didn't even make it to the ceremony on his behalf.

Spiner's non-appearance (the honor was accepted on his behalf by Zachary Quinto, who probably made some mention of his Star Trek movie in his acceptance speech) didn't ruin the event, however, as Data was only one of four inductees:

The Raibert Hopper is a one-legged robot developed by Marc Raibert, president of Boston Dynamics, in the Leg Laboratory, first at Carnegie Mellon and later at MIT. The Hopper hops around on one foot, is able to maintain balance, somersault, and jump over objects. It examines the principles of balance that have become central to agile movement by bipedal and quadrapedal robots.

Lars Nyengaard, director of innovation and education projects for LEGO Education, accepted an award for the induction of Mindstorms, a robotic kit that teaches people young and old to program and assemble robots, which make robots accessible to the masses.

Todd Jochem, a Ph.D. graduate of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, spoke on behalf of NavLab 5, an autonomous minivan developed at the Robotics Institute.

Jochem started working with robots in 1990 at Carnegie Mellon, working for Chuck Thorpe in the NavLab group. Jochem, who later founded Applied Perception Inc., was one of two students who rode in NavLab in 1995's "No Hands Across America" tour, on which NavLab 5 steered itself on public highways across the country.

Applied Perception Inc., which focused on the perception, planning, and control technologies for unmanned vehicles, was bought last year by Foster-Miller, the largest supplier of military robots. Jochem is currently the group director of Foster-Miller.

Jochem said that his work in the robot industry currently revolves around "making robots smarter and more useful." One of the industry's newest developments allows robots to help battlefield medics find and extract wounded soldiers. As of now, the robots have not been tested on an actual battlefield but "the ideas it has spawned will eventually help save lives," said Jochem.


Listing those out like that, suddenly Brent Spiner looks all the more petty for not appearing, don't you think...?

SCS' Robot Hall of Fame inducts four new robots [Tartan Online]

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