Robots are serious business. Very serious. They're expensive. They're complex. They're expensive. They're hard to build and hard to program. They're expensive.
For all of these reasons, they make really, really great toys, and the more expensive they are, the more fun they are to play around with. I'm sure that most of the videos of serious business robots being played with by the people who are responsible for them never see the light of day (serious business, remember?), but we love it when every once in a while, a video of some roboticist saying (metaphorically, of course) "hold my beer while I try this" shows up on the Internet for us to enjoy. Like, hey, we've got a robot snake with wheels, let's harness it up and see if it can pull us around! YEAH!
We spotted KAIRO at ICRA 2013, and since then, the modular snake car, um, thing, has gotten some upgrades, including extra sensors and strong off-road wheels.
Arne Roennau from FZI in Karlsruhe writes:
During the Taranis field exercise in Austria we tested how strong KAIRO now actually is and let it pull Lars in a rescue stretcher :) KAIRO 3 was developed for search and rescue tasks and as an inspection robot, but being this strong and robust; it could also be used to really rescue people.
[ KAIRO ]
I have no idea if there is anything notable about this new robot arm from Kawasaki. But you know what?
BECAUSE IT'S SHINY.
Via [ Akihabara News ]
It is entirely appropriate that one of the most technologically advanced consumer production cars in the world, the Tesla Model S, is made with such a beautiful symphony of industrial robots:
Via [ Wired ]
From what I've been able to gather, this was human error on the part of the pilot controlling the Heron UAV. Whenever we see a UAV accident that had the potential to hurt someone, that's what we like to hear—it's the human's fault, not the robot.
We have been waiting for this moment for years: Horizontal Bar Gymnast Robot pulls off a quadruple backflip:
[ YouTube ]
The Sydney Harbor Bridge is getting a comprehensive face lift, and robots are on the job:
[ Sabre ]
What happens if you bolt two ducted-fan flying robots together and give them a pen? This, of course:
This video shows the AIRobots ducted-fan prototype accomplishing advanced operations including tilting in midair and writing a small sentence using the on-board manipulator. The video shows the main advantages of having the longitudinal dynamics of the vehicle fully-actuated, namely such that the pitch and the longitudinal position can be controlled independently.
[ AIRobots ]
Okay, this thing is just freakin' awesome. There's not a lot of information on it, but it's basically an actuated gyroscopic backpack that a human can wear. The gyro spins up, and rotating it generates torque on the human that it's attached to, allowing them to be teleoperated.
Cornell's Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team has been working hard on their RoboSub 2013 competition vehicle, Ragnarök. Yeah, they went full umlaut on the name, but I think this beast has earned it:
And here's their competition video:
[ CUAUV ]
I love watching the speed and precision of pick and place robots, especially when they're picking and placing something as tasty as Haribo Gummy Strawberries:
[ Yum Yum Yum ]
Like it or not, lab animals are critical to the development of drugs that keep people alive and well. To keep the animals healthy and happy requires a lot of time and effort, most of which can now be automated with the gentle touch of a Yaskawa robot arm:
Via [ Diginfo ]
Insects navigate using a simplistic vision system called optical flow, which is based on the apparent relative motion of very basic shapes. It works robustly with very simple sensors and not a lot of bandwidth, making it ideal for tiny robots, and Harvard's been working on implementing it on their flapping-wing microrobot. It's just one dimension right now, but it's still cool to see how well it works.
[ Harvard ]
[ Curiosity ]
We'll wrap up the week with a six (six!) video tour of Roboboat 2013, for those of you who like boats. And robots. And boats.
Meet the Boats:
Meet the Teams:
[ Roboboat 2013 ]