Video Friday: Animatronic King Kong, Robot Pilot, and Giant Eyeball Drone

Animatronic King Kong to debut on Broadway
Photo: Global Creatures
This giant animatronic King Kong, built by Australian company Global Creatures, will debut on Broadway next year.

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!):

NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 22-26, 2017 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
ROS-I Asia Pacific Workshop – May 25-26, 2017 – Singapore
IEEE ICRA – May 29-3, 2017 – Singapore
University Rover Challenge – June 1-13, 2017 – Hanksville, Utah, USA
IEEE World Haptics – June 6-9, 2017 – Munich, Germany
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online
ICCV 2017 – June 13-16, 2017 – Venice, Italy
RoboBoat 2017 – June 20-20, 2017 – Daytona Beach, Fl., USA
Aerial Robotics International Research Symposium – June 21-22, 2017 – Toronto, Ont., Canada
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 25-28, 2017 – London, England
Autonomous Systems World – June 26-27, 2017 – Berlin, Germany
RoboUniverse Seoul – June 28-30, 2017 – Seoul, Korea
RobotCraft 2017 – July 3-3, 2017 – Coimbra, Portugal
ICAR 2017 – July 10-12, 2017 – Hong Kong
RSS 2017 – July 12-16, 2017 – Cambridge, Mass., USA
MARSS – July 17-21, 2017 – Montreal, Canada
Summer School on Soft Manipulation – July 17-21, 2017 – Lake Chiemsee, Germany

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


As part of DARPA’s ALIAS program, this robot arm was able to help land a Boeing 737 in a simulator:

The only reason this works at all is because of how heavily automated the aircraft already is. It makes me wonder what the point of the robot arm is at all: Why not just build this stuff into the existing autopilot already, you know?

[ Aurora Flight Sciences ]


Earlier this year, WeRobotics and Nepal Flying Labs teamed up with the Swiss-based NGO Medair to map one of the largest landslides in Nepal. This video showcases that experience, highlighting the project from the team’s point of view, and attempting to show the true magnitude of the landslide. The video also addresses one of the core reasons for the establishment of our Flying Labs, the creation of local capacity in robotics technologies for faster disaster response, and other social good use cases.

WeRobotics ]


King Kong is coming to Broadway. And here he is, in the animatronic faux-flesh:

And here’s what it will look like on stage:

The giant animatronic Kong—weighing in at 1.1 metric tons and standing 6 meters tall—was built by Global Creatures in Melbourne, Australia, where the musical originally premiered in 2013. The production is now expected to open in the fall of 2018 at the Broadway Theatre.

The New York Times ]


There’s still plenty of work for nursery and greenhouse employees, but Harvest Automation helps to handle the really unpleasant repetitive heavy lifting:

The little robots certainly are brisk, almost too brisk at times:

[ Harvest Automation ]


Jimmy Fallon demos amazing new robots from all over the world, including an eerily human robot named Sophia from Hanson Robotics that plays rock-paper-scissors.

Oof. That poor butterfly.

[ Tonight Show ]


The world’s most poke-able giant flying eyeball explores... uh... something French:

Aerotain ] via [ Something French ]


Things that work in simulation but not on real robots: dynamic stabilization while tracking object.

Vikash Kumar ]


Coder Coded’s Pepper simulator and remote controller for Unity has just been updated:

Coder Coded ]


From Justin Tomas, in the GRASP Lab at UPenn:

In this work, we address the autonomous flight of a small quadrotor, enabling tracking of a moving object. The 15 cm diameter, 250 g robot relies only on onboard sensors (a single camera and an inertial measurement unit) and computers, and can detect, localize, and track moving objects. Our key contributions include the relative pose estimate of a spherical target as well as the planning algorithm, which considers the dynamics of the underactuated robot, the actuator limitations, and the field of view constraints. We show simulation and experimental results to demonstrate feasibility and performance, as well as robustness to abrupt variations in target motion.

[ Justin Tomas ]


Shriya Bhatnagar, Austin Dodge, Michael Green’s final project for “Introduction to Robotics” at the University of Houston is a robot with a taste for the artistic. Salvador WALL•E is a robot arm that can paint a landscape repeatedly. In particular, it uses acrylic paints and paintbrush to reproduce a city silhouette of the Houston skyline. The arm is the OWI-535 robotic arm used in demo projects for ECE 5397. The arm has been modified with potentiometers and an Arduino Mega 2560 to allow for more accurate control.

[ University of Houston ]


Sugary beverage company puts large light on drone to make dangerous nighttime mountain bike riding perhaps slightly less dangerous:

Here’s the behind the scenes, where they describe the massive water-cooled custom LED light system they mounted on the drone:

[ Night Chase ] via [ Fstoppers ]


Kuri can now locate its own charging dock and recharge itself when necessary:

Mayfield has also been doing some field testing, and to get an unpredictable variety of houses, they just use Airbnb:

[ Mayfield Robotics ]


From Tobias Nägeli at ETH Zurich, appearing in IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters:

We propose a method for real-time motion planning with applications in aerial videography. Taking framing objectives, such as position of targets in the image plane as input, our method solves for robot trajectories and gimbal controls automatically and adapts plans in real-time due to changes in the environment. We contribute a real-time receding horizon planner that autonomously records scenes with moving targets, while optimizing for visibility to targets and ensuring collision-free trajectories. A modular cost function, based on the re-projection error of targets is proposed that allows for flexibility and artistic freedom and is well behaved under numerical optimization. We formulate the minimization problem under constraints as a finite horizon optimal control problem that fulfills aesthetic objectives, adheres to non-linear model constraints of the filming robot and collision constraints with static and dynamic obstacles and can be solved in real-time. We demonstrate the robustness and efficiency of the method with a number of challenging shots filmed in dynamic environments including those with moving obstacles and shots with multiple targets to be filmed simultaneously.

[ MIT News ]


We did it! We have accomplished the World’s first human flight with the drone and jump at high altitude. On May 12, our 28-propeller Aerones’s drone has lifted a skydiver Ingus Augstkalns at a height of 330 metres, from where he accomplished the planned jump and landing with the parachute.

Er, congrats? Personally, I’m kinda ready for the “let’s do this otherwise normal thing except WITH A DRONE” fad to be over already.

[ Aerones ] via [ Engadget ]


RoboCup is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and they’ve put together a series of videos highlighting each of the competitions that are part of the event. The first three are right here:

And you’ll find the others on YouTube at the link below.

[ YouTube ] via [ RoboCup ]

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Automaton

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

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York City
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Washington, D.C.
 

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