In 2010, my Berkeley colleagues Ping Chuan (“Ted”) Wang, Mario Fritz, Trevor Darrell, Pieter Abbeel, and I participated in the PR2 Quick Start Video Competition — a challenge to make a 1-minute research video with the PR2 which would maximally entertain Willow Garage founder Scott Hassan.
Ted and Mario had been working on a classifier which could detect inside-out vs rightside-out socks, and asked if I could help get the PR2 to do something with it. Of course, its grippers were too fat for such a dexterous motion. So we used a pole, and got this winning result:
Now, I was a 21 year-old male at the time. And despite the funnier story which circulated the internet (“Out-of-touch researchers don’t realize what this looks like!”), we all had a serious laugh throughout the sleep-deprived hackathon. So when the video went viral, at least 4 of us were thrilled. The pinnacle of virality, in my mind, happened when I turned on the TV on 08/25/2010 and saw this (mildly NSFW):
It’s immature, gross-out, Family-Guy-brow humor. And it made me laugh a lot. When I was presenting the [eventual paper] at IROS 2011, the Attack of the Show crew were kind enough to donate footage. In good faith I never put it online, but now that the show is no longer in existence I think the statute of limitations has safely expired. I hope this doesn’t go down as the most famous research contribution I was a part of, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.
Also, here’s the IROS talk with my recut, less NSFW video: