Video Friday: Robot Push-Recovery, Air-Water Drone, and DARPA Explains AI

iCub humanoid robot
Image: RobotCub Project via YouTube

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

Robotics Alley – February 28-March 1, 2017 – Minneapolis, Minn., USA
HRI 2017 – March 6-9, 2017 – Vienna, Austria
IEEE ARSO – March 8-10, 2017 – Austin, Texas, USA
IEEE SSRR – March 10-13, 2017 – Shanghai, China
NYC Drone Film Festival – March 17-19, 2017 – New York, N.Y., USA
European Robotics Forum – March 22-24, 2017 – Edinburgh, Scotland
Automate – April 3-3, 2017 – Chicago, Ill., USA
ITU Robot Olympics – April 7-9, 2017 – Istanbul, Turkey
U.S. National Robotics Week – April 8-16, 2017 – USA
NASA Swarmathon – April 18-20, 2017 – NASA KSC, Florida, USA
RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
RoboGames 2017 – April 21-23, 2017 – Pleasanton, Calif., USA
ICARSC – April 26-30, 2017 – Coimbra, Portugal
AUVSI Xponential – May 8-11, 2017 – Dallas, Texas, USA
AAMAS 2017 – May 8-12, 2017 – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Innorobo – May 16-18, 2017 – Paris, France

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


This hey-some-mean-human-pushed-me-I’d-better-do-something-and-not-fall controller (the technical term is push-recovery) should be mandatory on all bipedal robots, not just iCub:

iCub ]


One advantage of Cassie that has maybe not been properly appreciated? It’s basically carry-on sized.

Agility Robotics ]


We wrote about AquaMAV, a diving drone project, in 2015, but this updated video (winner of Best Robot Video at the 2017 AAAI Video Competition) shows some of the very impressive skills of this multimodal robot in action:

I like the explosives idea. I mean, explosives. Obviously.

[ AquaMAV ]


When power is lost due to natural or man-made disasters, it is a top priority to get the power network restored as quickly as possible. But if the existing infrastructure is destroyed, what do you do? These autonomous ground robots can be deployed to establish a mobile microgrid.

[ Michigan NAS Lab ]


Delivery drones that we approve of, courtesy WeRobotics:

So that’s pretty cool, but the behind the scenes about this test is even better.

[ WeRobotics ] and [ Peru Flying Labs ]


Challenging volcano terrain? The answer is always more tracks and more degrees of freedom. Always.

[ Tohoku University ]


Yet another game rendered not fun anymore by a robot, in this case a Denso 6-axis articulated arm:

Presumably, the plexiglass panel is there to keep the human loser from knocking over the board in rage.

[ Denso ]


Muscular activity contains information on motion intention. By decoding the muscular activity of an arm during reachig-to-grasp motions, Billard Lab was able to detect grasp type in the early stages of a reaching motion which enables fast activation of a robotic hand by teleoperation.

[ EPFL ]


I don’t know how much a Segway Ninebot costs, but paying locally available humans (e.g. teenagers) to do tasks like shoveling snow is probably way cheaper. Welcome to the reality of service robotics.

[ Segway ]


From Microsoft:

AirSim is a simulator for drones (and soon other vehicles) built on Unreal Engine. It is open-source, cross platform and supports hardware-in-loop with popular flight controllers such as Pixhawk for physically and visually realistic simulations. It is developed as an Unreal plugin that can simply be dropped in to any Unreal environment you want. Our goal is to develop AirSim as a platform for AI research to experiment with deep learning, computer vision and reinforcement learning algorithms for autonomous vehicles. For this purpose, AirSim also exposes APIs to retrieve data and control vehicles in a platform independent way.

[ GitHub ] via [ DIY Drones ]


I don’t know exactly what this Shadow hand is doing, but it sort of seems like any human doing any kind of biology anywhere is now redundant.

[ Shadow Robot Company ]


As far as a self-driving vehicle algorithm is concerned, there isn’t a heck of a lot of difference between a video game and reality, and you can get self-driving to work in Euro Truck Simulator:

[ ChosunTruck ]


Demo of the NAIST OpenHand M2S on a Kuka LBR iiwa robot arm, showing off material recognition, bed making, and tucking. The design is open-source, 3D-printable and uses two OptoForce 3D force sensors. Based on the Yale OpenHand M2 design.

[ NAIST OpenHand ] via [ Robohub ]


Detroit carmakers are constantly replacing their robots with fancy new ones. So where do all the retired factory robots go? These guys from a show called “Detroit Steel” found the place.

[ ICR ]


This is a very short (4 minutes) TED Talk from Rod Brooks in 2014. Nothing new (being that it’s an old video), but Brooks is an excellent speaker (and robot), and always fun to listen to.

[ Rethink Robotics ]


What’s the ground truth on artificial intelligence (AI)? In this video, John Launchbury, the Director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O), attempts to demystify AI--what it can do, what it can’t do, and where it is headed. Through a discussion of the "three waves of AI" and the capabilities required for AI to reach its full potential, John provides analytical context to help understand the roles AI already has played, does play now, and could play in the future.

[ DARPA ]

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