Video Friday: George Takei Meets Baxter, Jibo Origins, and Underwater Cake

Image: Takei's Take/YouTube

What with Savioke's secret project now out in the open, we're in desperate need of new mystery robots to obsess over. It's just not any fun being a robot journalist if there isn't something going on that nobody will tell you anything about, besides telling you that they can't tell you anything about it. It gives us a reason to live.

So please, please, please, for our sanity, send us anonymous emails, blurry cell phone pictures, anything we can fret and lust over. It would make us so happy.

Thank you.



George Takei visits Rethink Robotics (and other tech places) in the Boston area. He meets Baxter and even teaches the robot to pick up Sulu figurines.

Takei's Take ]



Want more details on Savioke's new robot? So do we! And we'll get them next week. Meanwhile, this, from Google Ventures.

[ Google Ventures ]



Want more details on the origins of Jibo, Cynthia Breazeal's social robot for families? So do we! And we have it right now.

[ Jibo ]



Gustavo Avellar wrote in to share his master's thesis with us, on time optimized area coverage with multiple UAVs. He's at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, and here's the abstract:

This thesis addresses the development, implementation and testing of different methodologies for path planning and cooperation between UAVs in the area coverage task. One of the tested strategies is based on a intelligent waypoint distribution on a designated coverage area. With the location of the borders of the covered area and knowledge of the flight altitude and camera field of view, the positions of the lines where the UAVs will fly are calculated. This takes into consideration that the UAVs will cover the area with sweep like movements, doing turns outside the coverage region. The list containing the coordinates for the base and the waypoints that limit each sweep line, is used as an input to the second stage, as well as the number of available UAVs, their setup time, flight speed and maximum flight time. The set of points is modeled as vertexes in modified multiple salesmen traveling problem. The solution to this linear integer programming problem will be the number of UAVs that are needed to accomplish the mission in the minimum possible time and the sequence of waypoints that must be visited by each one of them, so that the area is completely covered. The contribution from this work is the realization that using all UAVs available for the mission will not always result in the minimum time to accomplish it. This is due to the fact that each UAV has a setup time, and in some situations, the usage of a bigger number of agents will not always make up for the additional setup time added by each one of them. Experiments were made with one and two UAV covering the same region and validated these findings.

Thanks Gustavo!



BAE's Taranis UAV has been getting ready for the Farnborough International Airshow 2014. This video isn't showing anything new, but I think I'll always get a kick out of seeing these stealthy robojets flying around.

[ Taranis ]



Flying drones with a first-person view system is becoming more and more popular. But now some guys in the U.K. decided to use a drone to give a driver a third-person view of his car—while he's driving it! It's just like a video game, but you're driving a real car in a real course. Don't try this in a public road!

Via [ Engadget ]



Pal Robotics has a new mobile base that's ROS, uh, based, if you have a robot that you need to mobilize:

[ PAL Robotics ]



This week we reported that Harvard researchers have built a swarm of one thousand robots. The roboticists at Georgia Tech's GRITS Lab don't have that many robots but looks like they're having enough fun with their swarms. 

This video highlights the work on multi-agent robotics at the GRITS Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. By drawing inspiration from the world around us, different ways of interacting with the robots are discussed, with control theory playing a key role for making the human-swarm interactions happen.

[ GRITS Lab ]



The reason to watch this hexapod video is because at 2:22, it does cartwheels. Sort of.

[ YouTube ]



This is only sort of a robot (more of an automated system, really), but it's so, mmmm, deliciously satisfying:

Also, this company also makes equipment that can MAKE CAKES UNDERWATER. Why? BECAUSE CAKES UNDERWATER:

[ Unifiller ]



Telepresence robots like the Beam let you be somewhere when travel or time constraints would make it not possible otherwise. And bringing experts into schools on-demand through a robot is a fantastic idea:

[ Suitable Tech ]



Watching the ESA's Eurobot rover move slowly around indoors isn't inherently that exciting, but in this case, it's being controlled FROM SPACE by an astronaut aboard the ISS:

Looking down from orbit, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst steered ESA’s Eurobot rover through a series of intricate manoeuvres on the ground yesterday, demonstrating a new space network that could connect astronauts to vehicles on alien worlds.
During an intense 90-minute live link on 7 August, Alex used a dedicated controller laptop on the International Space Station to operate Eurobot, relying on video and data feedback to feed commands from 400 km up, orbiting at 28 000 km/h.
The link was provided by a new network that stores commands when signals are interrupted if direct line of sight with Earth or the surface unit is lost, forwarding them once contact is re-established.
In the future, controlling robots on Mars or the Moon will require a sort of ‘space Internet’ to send telecommands and receive data. Such networks must also accommodate signal delays across vast distances, considering that astronauts and rovers on Mars will have to be linked with mission controllers on Earth.

[ ESA ]



We'll finish with another "robots are coming to take your jobs video," albeit a well thought out and coherent one that makes some good points:

While there's nothing really wrong with this video, it presents robotics and automation as this pending thing that's going to suddenly put a huge number of people out of work. But it's going to be much more of a gradual transition, because robots are still terrible at doing things that humans are good at, and most of the time, they're more expensive and more trouble than they're worth, and that's going to last quite a while. Eventually, many repetitive manual labor jobs are going to disappear, as are jobs driving vehicles and other machines. Maybe these are careers that you do not want to start, if you're looking to start a career, but if you have a career like this right now, robots should not make you panic.

[ YouTube ]



IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:

Erico Guizzo
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Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.

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