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It's the sort of ceremony that's so magical it can only occur on even-numbered years. Inventors, educators, entertainers, college students and media folk gathered at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA tonight for the 2012 inductions to the Robot Hall of Fame, a Carnegie Mellon-sponsored event created to celebrate the best of our mechanical betters.

This year, the field included four categories, judged by both a jury of 107 writers, designs, entrepreneurs and academics and the public at large, each faction constituting half the voting total. The show kicked off, however, with the induction of 2010 winners, the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, the da Vinci Surgical System, iRobot's Roomba, the Terminator and Huey, Dewey and Louie, a trio of robots from 1971's Silent Running.

The first 'bot to secure its spot in the class of 2012, was the programmable humaoid Nao, from Aldebaran Robotics, which beat out the iRobot Create and Vex Robotics Design System in the Educational category. The PackBot military robot from iRobot took the Industrial and Service category, beating out the Kiva Mobile Robotic Fulfillment System and Woods Hole Oceanographic's Jason. Boston Dynamic's Big Dog ran over some stiff competition in the form of Willow Garage's PR2 and NASA's Robonaut to win the Research title. And WALL-E triumphed over doppelganger Johnny Five and the Jetsons' Rosie in the Entertainment category. Relive the festivities in four minutes after the break.

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Robot Hall of Fame inducts Big Dog, Packbot, Nao and WALL-E

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Robot Hall of Fame inducts Big Dog, PackBot, Nao and WALL-E (video)