This cool little robot uses a Kinect sensor to see the world and avoid obstacles while it is flying around.

The attached Microsoft Kinect delivers a point cloud to the onboard computer via the ROS kinect driver, which uses the OpenKinect/Freenect project’s driver for hardware access. A sample consensus algorithm fits a planar model to the points on the floor, and this planar model is fed into the controller as the sensed altitude. All processing is done on the on-board 1.6 GHz Intel Atom based computer, running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

A VICON motion capture system is used to provide the other necessary degrees of freedom (lateral and yaw) and acts as a safety backup to the Kinect altitude – in case of a dropout in the altitude reading from the Kinect data, the VICON based reading is used instead. In this video however, the safety backup was not needed.

Credit goes to Patrick Bouffard & Prof. Claire Tomlinat Berkeley from the STARMAC Project in the Hybrid Systems Lab at UC Berkeley (EECS department).

here is another robot with Kinect, that can track a person and follow them around. The openNI driver has a skeletal tracking module. We are almost living in the future!