HERB Wins Top Honors at Robot Film Festival

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Garratt Gallagher, a 2009 Robotics Institute alum, accepts the Botsker on behalf of Carnegie Mellon's HERB at the Robot Film Festival in San Francisco July 21.

"Do Robots Dream of Cookies?" a video starring the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute's HERB, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, won top honors at the Robot Film Festival July 20-21 in San Francisco.

The video features HERB's newly acquired ability to separate Oreo cookies and was created as an online component of this year's "Cookie vs. Creme" advertising campaign for the popular brand. Sidd Srinivasa, associate professor of robotics and head of the Personal Robotics Laboratory, and Pras Velagapudi, project scientist, had supporting roles.

The festival jury selected the video as the winner of the "Botsker" award for "Most Innovative Technology." The theme of this year's festival, "Form vs. Function," made that a significant award, said Heather Knight, a Ph.D. student in robotics and the festival's executive director.

"We wanted this year's festival to explore different embodiments of robots and, in particular, to look at non-traditional functions of robots," Knight explained. "Obviously, this video showed an unexpected application of robotics. But HERB also displayed remarkable acting abilities in what was a positive story about the role of robots. And it had real technology behind it."

After two years in ew York City, the festival shifted to San Francisco this year, where the sold-out event was hosted by Bot & Dolly, a design and engineering studio that specializes in using robotic cameras to shoot movies and other art and entertainment productions. Marek Michalowski, a Ph.D. alumnus of the Robotics Institute and co-founder of BeatBots, was executive producer of the festival.

HERB and Pras Velagapudi between takes during the shooting of the Oreo Separator video.

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice@cs.cmu.edu