Video Friday: Segway Robot Demo, Pepper the Retail Worker, and Megakopter World Record

Photo: University of Oslo/Megakopter

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your soon-to-be snow-buried Automaton bloggers. We’ll be also posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

ASU Rehabilitation Robotics Workshop – February 8-9, 2016 – Tempe, Arizona, USA
The Future of Rescue Simulation Workshop – February 29-4, 2016 – Leiden, Netherlands
HRI 2016 – March 7-10, 2016 – Christchurch, New Zealand
WeRobot 2016 – April 1-2, 2016 – Miami, Fla., USA
National Robotics Week – April 2-10, 2016 – United States
AISB HRI Symposium – April 5-6, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom


Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Giving drones the ability to dodge obstacles in complicated environments is huge, partially because it’s one of those things that everyone developing a delivery drone acts like they’ll just be able to somehow do. As far as we know, the current state-of-the-art is well reflected in these videos from MIT. The first shows a drone flying through a complex obstacle course; impressive, but it requires about 10 minutes of computation to execute. The second shows a small airplane navigating in real-time through less complex environments, without any advanced knowledge of the space:

Here’s another video directly from the MIT Robot Locomotion Group that includes actual drone noise, making it way better:

We’ll get more on these projects this may at ICRA in Stockholm.

[ MIT ]


“An unmanned, electric, autonomous aircraft travelling at 75 kilometres per hour lands gently on the roof of a moving car. For the first time, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have successfully demonstrated a technique developed for this purpose. The system could be applied to ultralight solar-powered aircraft that complement conventional satellite systems while flying in the stratosphere. Eliminating the landing gear significantly increases the payload capability of a solar-powered aircraft – it is easier to land during crosswind conditions, making landings in unfavourable weather conditions possible.”

[ DLR ]


It’s interesting how claustrophobic this FPV drone racing course feels once you see these things flying over the desert:

We assume that this was all registered, FAA-approved flight.

[ XDC ] via [ Gizmodo ]


“Jan 15, 2016 Skala Sykaminias, Lesvos Greece. View from shore of EMILY escorting a refugee boat as it goes through the area that the deeper water patrol boats (such as the Hellenic Coast Guard cutters use in the channel between Turkey and Greece and the smaller rigid hull inflatable boats used by NGOs) cannot enter due to draft restrictions but is too far out for lifeguards on shore to wade and has to be approached by a swimming lifeguard. You can see that the two patrol boats have escorted the refugees through the Greek side of the channel but can go no further. If the boat capsizes, people fall or misjudge the depth and jump off, or the boat runs aground, the lifeguards in patrol boats are not in position to help. This is one reason why it is so important to get the refugees to land at safe shores. Also notice that they start taking off and throwing out lifejackets before landing and start waving, probably not thinking what happens if the boat suddenly runs aground or they fall over while getting out. The lifeguards on the boats (you see the team in wetsuits in the rubber boat on the right) and on land would have to swim floatation devices out, taking valuable time and risking panicking people trying to climb on their heads. This was a perfect day with calm water, imagine the challenges when the wind and waves come up- the gap is treacherous. Chief Fernando Boiteux of the CRASAR team embedded with the Hellenic Red Cross and ProActiva teams to assist.”

EMILY does a donut at 1:15.

[ CRASAR ]


Pepper might be better at providing fashion advice if it could tell whether you’re a woman or not:

Also, GAAAHHH CREEPY LASER EYE!

[ CurveTips ] via [ RobotsLab ]


The Falcons are an industry team competing in RoboCup 2016, made up of employees from ASME, a Dutch microelectronics company. Their bots have skills:

We’re looking forward to seeing them take on TU Eindhoven (who we posted about last week) at RoboCup this year.

[ Falcons ]

Thanks Thomas!


UAE Drones for Good Award project:

“This project was among the best in the Environment category. The Reef Rover autonomous drone will provide researchers with the necessary tools to effectively map, explore and study underwater ecosystems.”

[ UAE Drones For Good ]


Electric motors: MORE = BETTER

[ Megakopter ] via [ Gizmodo ]


Skip ahead to 0:50 to see some nifty object avoidance. Optically tracked with an external vision system, but still.

[ Energid ]


If you missed the bit of the Intel keynote where they introduced their little Segway robot thingy, here it is:

[ Segway Robot ]


Care-O-bot 4 has the most jolly movement of any robot I’ve ever seen:

[ Care-O-bot 4 ]

Thanks Thilo!


Lo and behold, it’s “Lo and Behold,” a documentary from Werner Herzog on connectedness, AI, and robotics, which looks like it’ll be kind of amazing:

The second trailer is less robot-y, but still pretty interesting: 

[ IMDB ] via [ PopSci ]


Taming the swarm - Collective Artificial Intelligence Radhika Nagpal is the Kavli Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. At Harvard, she leads the Self-organizing Systems Research Group (SSR) and her research combines computer science, robotics, and biology. Her main area of interest is how cooperation can emerge or be programmed from large groups of simple agents. Radhika Nagpal is a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, where she heads the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group in the study of collective behavior in biological systems and how such behaviors can be applied to computing and robotics. A professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), her research draws on inspiration from social insects and multicellular biology, with the goal of creating globally robust systems made up of many cooperative parts.

[ Radhika Nagpal ] via [ TEDxBermuda ]


RI Seminar: Daniel D. Lee: Manifolds and Decision Making in Intelligent Systems Current AI systems for perception and action incorporate a number of techniques: optimal observer models, Bayesian filtering, probabilistic mapping, trajectory planning, dynamic navigation, and feedback control. I will describe and demonstrate some of these methods for autonomous driving and legged and flying robots, and contrast these models with neural representations and computation in biology. I will also highlight some new research on machine learning for these systems, and discuss the role of geometrical structures and noise in synthetic and biological approaches to classification and decision making.

[ CMU Robotics Institute ]

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