Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab have taught Willow Garage's PR2 robot to identify feces based on color, confront the offending substances, and dispose of them in a state-of-the-art plastic bucket. And judging from this video, UPenn gave GRASP a blank check for their fake excrement budget.

It takes the robot 12 minutes to autonomously clean up a room that's been carpet-bombed with 20 fecal specimens. Of course, GRASP lab's demonstration makes some dire assumptions about the future of sanitation.

If and when the poop-scooping PR2 is deployed in public, chances are it will be cleaning stray piles of canine leavings. In GRASP's video, the room has seemingly been occupied by a pack of unruly timber wolves. In the future, will our planet be knee-deep in lupine egesta?

Furthermore — as my colleague Stephen Totilo of Kotaku hypothesized upon observing this video — will the PR2 usher in the end of human scatological responsibility? Indeed, the future is shaping up to be an extremely dark place.

[Via IEEE Spectrum]