We're back from ICRA in Hong Kong, just in time to return you to your regularly scheduled Video Fridays. Just because ICRA is done, though, doesn't mean that we're taking a break: in just a few weeks, this year's Robotics: Science and Systems Conference (RSS) will be held at UC Berkeley, and IROS 2014 is only a few months away, taking place in Chicago in September. As usual, there will be all sorts of other robot stuff going on in the near future, some of which we know about but is TOP SECRET, and some of which will be a surprise to everybody. And those surprises are usually the best. No surprises today, though: we're back to normal, and it's time for robot videos.
The much-hyped mind-controlled cybernetic exoskeleton kickoff of the World Cup in Brazil was a bit of a letdown: it took place on the sidelines, and the official television broadcast almost missed it, but here it is anyway, along with a little bit of background on the system from GeoBeats News:
AeroVironment and BP spent "about a year and a considerable financial investment" convincing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to let them commercially operate unmanned drones in Alaska. They're using the drones for a variety of stuff, including road and pipeline monitoring, and even wildlife spotting. If there was ever a place that the FAA wouldn't have a problem approving autonomous drone flights, you have to figure that it would be in the middle of nowhere, but we have to wonder how long (and how much in the way of "financial investment") it would take to convince the FAA to let this same sort of thing happen over urban (or even rural) areas.
Via [ WSJ ]
Carnegie Mellon University's Home Exploring Robot Butler HERB made his stage debut opposite drama student Olivia Brown (A'15) in a performance of David Ives' one-act comedy "Sure Thing." Researchers and students from CMU's Robotics Institute and School of Drama worked for months to prepare HERB to play Bill to Olivia's Betty in the comedy where two people meeting for the first time have their conversation continually reset by a bell that rings when one of them responds negatively to the other.
When he is not acting, HERB serves as the research platform of the Personal Robotics Lab and is a testbed for algorithms, software and other technology that will enable robots to perform challenging manipulation tasks in places where people live and work.
It's interesting that CMU chose HERB for this role, because it's not particularly anthropomorphic, as robots go, but it seemed to put on a good show anyway:
[ HERB ]
While we were busy at ICRA, Automatica was going on in Germany. This video from the University of Zurich, "Collaboration between Ground and Flying Robots for Search-And-Rescue Missions," won the KUKA Innovation Award (and 20,000 Euros!) there:
Also at Automatica, ABB had some fun stuff set up at their booth, like what appears to be robot arms powered by someone furiously pedaling a bike:
It looks like ABB robot arms are now white, not orange. This is nice, because it means it's now easy to tell the difference between the major industrial robot arm manufacturers: KUKA arms are the orange ones, ABB gets white now, and FANUC is yellow.
[ ABB ]
Here's an interesting pitch for a quadrotor that's focused on social networking:
While I'm personally not entirely sold on the whole social networking thing, I do like the design and the 3G connectivity, which would (theoretically) enable you to control the drone from anywhere with a cellular signal. However, the Kickstarter page makes it sound like the 3G will only be used to report position data, not for control, so we'll have to see how it plays out.
You can pledge a spendy $1,100 for a Skyteboard on Kickstarter (they're looking for 300k in funding), or pledge $1,600 for one with a GoPro, which is a little weird since a top of the line GoPro retails at only $400. The price for this drone is a lot, considering what the competition is looking like, so you'd probably have to really, really like social networking for it to be worth it.
We've always liked the idea of using road trains as a stepping stone to fully autonomous cars, and it's a concept that makes the most sense for the people who drive the most: truckers. Peloton Tech has successfully tested a sort of enhanced cruise control for trucks that lets one truck draft behind another, generating 10 percent fuel savings while taking advantage of a combined autonomous safety system.
Very cool, although the human still needs to steer.
[ Peloton Tech ]
Here's a TED Talk from Robert Full, discussing robots inspired by the amazing biomechanics of cockroaches. Stick around until the end for a surprise performance by DASH Robotics!
More cool music and spectacular video from Team Blacksheep, this time from Taiwan:
[ Team Blacksheep ]
And finally! It's a chocolate quadcopter, because why the heck not:
Via [ Gizmodo ]