Nao, BigDog, PackBot and Wall-E are the newest members of the Robot Hall of Fame.
The Robot Hall of Fame was established in 2003 by Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science to recognize landmark achievements in robotics technology and to create a broader awareness of the contributions that robots and roboticists make to science and society.
It honors both real and fictional robots and existing members include Asimo, Aibo, the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover and iRobot's Roomba vacuume cleaner as "real" members and from the "virtual world" Hal 9000, Robby, Star Trek's Data and C-3PO.
Previously new members were elected by an international jury of researchers, writers and designers but this year voting was open to all and over 17,000 votes were collected online.
The announcement of this year's new members took place at an awards ceremony on October 23, 2012 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh which began with the induction of five previous winners. The real robots honoured were the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, the da Vinci Surgical System, and iRobot's Roomba. Inductees from science fiction were the Terminator and Huey, Dewey and Louie, the trio of robots from 1971's Silent Running.
Personally I think Huey, Dewey and Louie are the most neglected robot stars of all and it good that they have received this recognition. If you have never seen Silent Running then seek out a copy and enjoy - oh and yes, there is this human called Bruce Dern who also stars in it but we all know who the real stars are...
For 2012 there were four categories with three nominees in each.
And the winners were:
Education & Consumer
Nao, the autonomous, programmable, humanoid robot developed by Aldebaran which has been adopted for the Standard Platform League of Robocup was winner of the Education & Consumer category.
The other nominees were the VEX Robotics Design System; and iRobot's Create, a robot based on the Roomba platform for educators, students, and developers.
Industrial & Service
iRobot's PackBot, a battle-tested robot that performs bomb disposal and other dangerous missions for troops and first responders was elected in the Industrial & Service Category. Over 4500 PackBots are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and it was one of the first robots to enter the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 tsunami.
Also nominated: Jason, a remotely operated submersible designed and built by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's Deep Submergence Lab which allows scientists remote access to the seafloor and Kiva, a solution for eCommerce fulfillment and item picking applications of all types.
There was a strong line up in the Research category. It was won by BigDog, a dynamically stable quadruped robot created by Boston Dynamics as a robotic pack mule to accompany soldiers in terrain too tough for conventional vehicles. It beat Willow Garage's PR2 and NASA's Robonaut.
In the Entertainment category Wall-E, star of the 2008 Disney/Pixar fim by the same name, beat Rosie the household Robot from “The Jetsons” which aired from 1962-1963 and from 1985-1987 and Johnny 5, who came to fame in 1986 in Tri Star Pictures' comedy/sci-fi film Short Circuit.
Personally I voted for Johnny 5 because he has more personality that Wall-E or Rosie - perhaps next time.