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Self-driving potato

Video Friday: Self-Driving Potato, NASA at Mars, and Autonomous Sumo Robots

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!):

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
Living Machines Conference – July 25-28, 2017 – Stanford, Calif., USA
RoboCup 2017 – July 27-31, 2017 – Nagoya, Japan
IEEE CASE 2017 – August 20-23, 2017 – Xi’an, China

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


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The most efficient way to exploring other planets may be sending humans to orbit, and letting robots do everything else

Are Telepresence Robots the Best Way to Explore Other Worlds?

As we start looking towards more comprehensive exploration of the Moon and of Mars, the assumption is that we’re working on sending humans to the surface of those worlds. It’s going to be exponentially more difficult and dangerous than sending robots, but that’s what exploration is all about, right?

There’s an article in the current issue of Science Robotics that discusses an alternative approach—a kind of compromise between sending only humans or only robots. The idea is using robotic telepresence for planetary exploration. From orbit, the authors argue, a small team of humans would remote operate rovers and other robotic systems and as a result they could do more exploration while keeping the overall mission safer and cheaper.

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Voliro Hexcopter Uses Rotating Nacelles to Perform Versatile Acrobatics

Voliro Hexcopter Uses Rotating Nacelles to Perform Versatile Acrobatics

Last month, we wrote about ETH Zurich’s Omnicopter, a flying cube with rotors providing thrust in lots of different directions that allow the drone to translate and rotate arbitrarily. This is very handy, for lots of different reasons, but the Omnicopter itself is rather bulky and seems destined to live out its life in a Swiss laboratory.

A team of undergrads at ETH Zurich has taken the idea behind the Omnicopter and designed an even more versatile flying robot. Voliro offers the same kind of decoupled position and attitude control, except that instead of a cube full of rotors oriented in different directions, this drone uses rotating nacelles that can turn it from a traditional hexcopter into something much more versatile and acrobatic.

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Valkyrie humanoid robot

Video Friday: Valkyrie on Rough Terrain, Harvard Arthropods, and Flying Wheeled Robot

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!):

RoboBoat 2017 – June 20-20, 2017 – Daytona Beach, Fl., USA
Aerial Robotics International Research Symposium – June 21-22, 2017 – Toronto, ON, 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
Living Machines Conference – July 25-28, 2017 – Stanford, Calif., USA
RoboCup 2017 – July 27-31, 2017 – Nagoya, Japan

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


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Georgia Tech's Shimon musical robot uses AI to compose completely original music

Four-Armed Marimba Robot Uses Deep Learning to Compose Its Own Music

The Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, led by Gil Weinberg, has a reputation for doing incredible musical things with robots, with a mix of creativity and technical expertise in robotics and AI. We’ve seen projects like a cybernetic second arm for a drummer, a cybernetic third arm (!) for a drummer, and a bunch of interesting research on ways that robots can dynamically collaborate with humans in the context of improvisational music. That last thing usually features Shimon, a four-armed expressive robotic marimba player, which can analyze music in real time and improvise along with human performers.

It’s an impressive thing to watch, but Shimon’s talents were mostly restricted to riffing on what other human musicians were doing. Now, Shimon has leveraged deep learning to create structured and coherent and totally unique compositions of its very own. 

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Sony's Toio robot cubes, console, and controller rings.

Sony Adds Toio Cubes to Its Arsenal of Strange Robotic Toys

From Sony, the company that brought you the amazing Aibo and the slightly less amazing Rolly, comes a new consumer robotic toy: Toio, a “toy platform” consisting of little robotic cubes on wheels. It’s much cuter and way more fun looking than it sounds, and could be just clever enough to keep kids interested for more than 5 minutes (a common problem with a lot of robotic toys).

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Men's eight rowing final at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Row Bots Test Whether Human Rowers Have Been Doing It Wrong

There are two different ways to row a boat with a bunch of oars. You can either do it synchronously, with everyone pulling all together and at the same time, or asynchronously, with rowers pulling in some sort of sequence, like a repeating wave. Nobody who knows what they’re doing with a boat (and this includes all of the Olympic rowing teams) ever does the asynchronous thing, and the assumption is that a rowing team that all pulls together is stronger and more efficient than a rowing team that pulls out of sync.

But here’s the thing: If you look at the hydrodynamics of a boat, a direct result of large speed variations is increased friction on the hull, and that means wasted energy compared to a boat propelled more steadily. With that in mind, French researchers decided to find out if rowing asynchronously might in fact be more efficient, and they have to put it to the test with a little racing boat filled with… wait for it… row bots.

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Extra Pair of Robot Arms

Video Friday: Extra Robot Arms, Anti-Drone Drone, and Adorable TurtleBots

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 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, ON, 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
Living Machines Conference – July 25-28, 2017 – Stanford, Calif., USA
RoboCup 2017 – July 27-31, 2017 – Nagoya, Japan

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


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SoftBank's massive robot collection now includes Pepper, Boston Dynamics' BigDog and Handle, Schaft's S-One, and many more.

SoftBank Acquires Boston Dynamics and Schaft

We knew that Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of telecom giant SoftBank, loved robots. Now the Japanese billionaire is about to significantly expand his collection.

Minutes ago, SoftBank announced that it will be acquiring Boston Dynamics and Schaft from Google parent Alphabet for an undisclosed sum, in order to “collaborate in advancing the development of smart robotics technologies.”

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Miniature Robotic Blimp.

Blimps Seem Like the Friendliest Kind of Indoor Flying Robots

Every time we go to a conference, we see flying robots that are getting smaller and more talented, capable of dynamically avoiding all sorts of obstacles, indoors and out. But that’s a lot of work. What’s less work is floating calmly through the air, without any concern for hurting people or running into things, or running out of battery: Such is the life of the gentle and slightly chubby Miniature Autonomous Blimp from Georgia Tech (GT-MAB), which can now detect faces and autonomously follow people around.

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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
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.
 

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