Video Friday: 100-Drone Spectacle, Autonomous Car vs. Snow, and Robot With Machine Gun

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Image: Howe & Howe/ARDEC via YouTube

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your weaponized 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.


Intel’s 100-drone performance was quite a spectacle:

It’s worth clicking through to Intel’s page on this to see all the pretty pictures.

[ Intel ]


Mad props to Ford for testing their autonomous cars in the snow:

How do they do it? LIDAR and basemaps:

To navigate snowy roads, Ford autonomous vehicles are equipped with high-resolution 3D maps – complete with information about the road and what’s above it, including road markings, signs, geography, landmarks and topography. “Maps developed by other companies don’t always work in snow-covered landscapes,” said Ryan Eustice, associate professor at University of Michigan college of engineering. “The maps we created with Ford contain useful information about the 3D environment around the car, allowing the vehicle to localize even with a blanket of snow covering the ground.”

An autonomous vehicle creates the maps while driving the test environment in favorable weather, with technologies automatically annotating features like traffic signs, trees and buildings. When the vehicle can’t see the ground, it detects above-ground landmarks to pinpoint itself on the map, and then subsequently uses the map to drive successfully in inclement conditions.

Here’s a bit more about Ford’s autonomous vehicle program:

[ Ford ] via [ Engadget ]


What can you do with a drone and a pickup truck? Win $100,000 from Ford and DJI if you have a good idea for a first responder application:

[ DJI ]


Here’s a pretty cool idea: a programmable sensor and computing module that can add basic vision capability to simple robots by relying on the IR communication channels that they use for remote control:

It’s $20 on Indiegogo.

[ Indiegogo ]


I really like this idea for a friendly, modular, ROS-based mobile manipulator:

I don’t care that it probably will never exist—I want that dual-armed hovering one.

[ UpDroid ] via [ ROS.org ]


We’re going to have more for you on this thing, but for now, we’re still kind of wondering just exactly what you’d do with it:

Especially since it looks really, really expensive.

[ Segway Robot ]


How do you defeat a rogue drone? With another drone, of course.

Its creators say this (patent-pending) net-shooting drone is a “solution to counter the threats from such drones when force landing or shooting them down may not be feasible; for example when they carry explosives or hazardous material.” And for now, it’s completely manual: you have to pilot the drone and shoot the net yourself.

[ MTU ]

Thanks Mo!


FIRST Robotics competitions are usually absurdly complicated, and this year is no exception. Looks like fun, though:

I say this every year, but I really wish autonomy had a stronger component in the FIRST competitions. Fifteen seconds (the time the robots operate autonomously at the beginning of each match) is not a lot of time, and autonomy should be a bigger part of the challenge.

[ FRC ]


I love this video because rather than just showing the solution to a problem (in this case, volcanic soil sampling), it takes us through original ideas, problems discovered during testing, and then how those problems were solved:

If this all looks like fun, here are some more robots from the Nagatani Lab in the Field Robotics Group at Tohoku University:

[ Field Robotics Lab ]


The U.S. Army has been funding Howe & Howe Technologies to put big guns on mobile robots, and here’s their latest:

[ Howe & Howe Technologies ] via [ ARDEC ]


It’s easy to just think of medical exoskeletons as robots that can allow people to walk who wouldn’t be able to walk otherwise. But, there’s an important rehabilitation component, and using an exoskeleton can actually help some people rehabilitate to the point of being able to walk again:

[ Ekso Bionics ]


Just a little extra footage of Motobot, from Yamaha and SRI:

[ Yamaha ]


This is basically just a highlight video for TU Eindhoven’s RoboCup team, but it does a good job of showing just how skilled these robots have become:

RoboCup 2016 will be held at the end of June in Leipzig, Germany.

[ TU Eindhoven ]


With some minor surgery and a pair of Myo armbands, Johnny Matheny has one of the most advanced robotic arms on the planet:

[ Johns Hopkins APL ]


I have dreams like this: robots making infinite amounts of tasty cookies.

I have such a huge craving for stroopwafflels right now.

[ Stroopwafel ]


Neato somehow managed to cram a LIDAR sensor into its affordable robotic vacuum, and the latest version now includes WiFi connectivity:

We’re going to be taking a close look at one of these things in the next few months, so stay tuned for a full review.

[ Neato ]


WowWee’s newest robot is no AIBO, but for $180 on pre-order, it’s pretty impressive:

While we’re wary of the whole Tamagotchi-style “push buttons to feed me or else” model, this is massively offset by the fact that if two CHiPs meet each other, they’ll sniff butts. Seriously.

[ CHiP ]


I really, really hate it when tiny robots are better dancers than I am (and they always are):

[ Drexel MET-lab ]


A mixture of directional gecko-inspired adhesives on compliant fingers and “fingernails” from Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dextrous Manipulation Lab can pick up all kinds of stuff:

[ Stanford BDML ]


Err, Dyson, you missed a spot.

We don’t know if this is representative of how the 360 Eye typically works, but if that’s the case, then Dyson needs to do some serious improvements in terms of navigation and user experience. This vacuum sucks, and not in a good way.

[ K. Moriyama ]


Here are some additional details on a couple of the Cybathlon competitions that will be held this year:

[ Cybathlon ]


NASA’s Prototype-Technology Evaluation and Research Aircraft is a not huge but probably very expensive testbed for emerging technology like wings that change shape mid-flight:

[ NASA ]

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