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Toyota Partner Robot

OSRF Forms New Corporation, Partners With Toyota Research

Today, the Open Source Robotics Foundation announced a whole bunch of stuff, including a big pile of money from Toyota Research, what is probably an even bigger pile of money from Toyota Research, and the formation of the for-profit Open Source Robotics Corporation. That last thing might sound a little worrisome, since corporation-ness and open source-itude are often at odds, but we checked in with OSRF CEO Brian Gerkey, who explained how it’s all going to work.

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Eagle vs drone

Dutch Police Buy Four Eagle Chicks for Anti-Drone Flying Squad

For the past year, the Dutch National Police and raptor training company Guard From Above have been investigating whether eagles could be an effective way of dealing with potentially dangerous drones. The trials have been a resounding success, Dutch police officials said, and today they announced that they’re ready to operationally deploy an anti-drone team of specially trained bald eagles and their human partners.

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Aggressive quadrotor can fly and avoid obstacles using only onboard sensors and computation.

Aggressive Quadrotors Zip Through Narrow Windows Without Any Help

Quadrotors are capable of doing some incredible stunts, like flying through narrow windows and thrown hoops. Usually, when we talk about quadrotors doing stuff like this, we have to point out that there are lots of very complicated and expensive sensors and computers positioned around the room doing all of the hard work, and the quadrotor itself is just following orders.

Vijay Kumar’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania is often responsible for some of the most spectacular quadrotor stunts, but their latest research is some of the most amazing yet: They’ve managed to get quadrotors flying through windows using only onboard sensing and computing, meaning that no window is safe from a quadrotor incursion. None. Anywhere. You’ve been warned.

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Giant drone with two arms developed by Prodrones.

Video Friday: Atlas Balancing, Giant Drone With Arms, and Modified Racing Roomba

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!):

European Rover Challenge – September 10-13, 2016 – Podkarpackie, Poland
Gigaom Change – September 21-23, 2016 – Austin, Texas, USA
RoboBusiness – September 28-29, 2016 – San Jose, Calif., USA
HFR 2016 – September 29-30, 2016 – Genoa, Italy
ISER 2016 – October 3-6, 2016 – Tokyo, Japan
Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, Korea
ICSR 2016 – November 1-3, 2016 – Kansas City, Kan., USA
Social Robots in Therapy and Education – November 2-4, 2016 – Barcelona, Spain
Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems 2016 – November 7-9, 2016 – London, England


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


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Georgia Tech researchers taught a swarm of Khepera III robots to avoid colliding with one another.

Swarms of Robots Manage to Not Run Into Each Other

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re very, very pro-more-robots around here. As journalists, we don’t really think through the consequences of always wanting more robots, which (if left unchecked) can lead to an unfortunate case of having too many robots. This becomes particularly problematic when you have so many robots that they spend all of their time trying not to run into each other, and none of their time doing anything productive.

At Georgia Tech, Li Wang and professors Aaron D. Ames and Magnus Egerstedt have been developing ways to allow infinitely large teams of mobile robots to move around each other without colliding, and also without getting in each other’s way. This is very important for people like me, who have 37 Roombas at home, but also for anyone imagining a future where roads are packed with autonomous cars.

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Double 2 telepresence robot at the Oregon Zoo

Double 2 Review: Trying Stuff You Maybe Shouldn't With a Telepresence Robot

At CES in January, Double Robotics announced the Double 2, a major upgrade to their super skinny telepresence platform that features better stability and turbo speed. It looked cool, but we didn’t get super excited about it, because like most telepresence robots, it’s designed to work very well in some very specific, usually business or education-focused environments. We’ve tested these things out before, and once you get past some hiccups and quirks, they generally do what they’re supposed to do, which is provide you with a mobile embodied presence somewhere that you’re not.

When Double Robotics asked us if we wanted to test out a Double 2, we said sure, with two conditions: 1. it had to come with an LTE cellular data connection, allowing us to use the robot free of Wi-Fi; and 2. we could take it anywhere we wanted. To their credit, the company didn’t even hesitate, and they shipped us a brand new Double 2, along with the camera and audio kit accessories and charging dock. Cool, now we can see what this robot can do—and maybe what it can’t.

Where are we taking it? Not some business or education environment. Our Double is going to the zoo.

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Autonomous robot tractor developed by CNH Industrial

Video Friday: Self-Driving Tractor, Robot Sumo, and Trolley Problem Solved

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your organic 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 SRRC Level 2 – September 2-5, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
ISyCoR 2016 – September 7-9, 2016 – Ostrava, Czech Republic
European Rover Challenge – September 10-13, 2016 – Podkarpackie, Poland
Gigaom Change – September 21-23, 2016 – Austin, Texas, USA
RoboBusiness – September 28-29, 2016 – San Jose, Calif., USA
HFR 2016 – September 29-30, 2016 – Genoa, Italy
ISER 2016 – October 3-6, 2016 – Tokyo, Japan
Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, Korea


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


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Disney Research's Jimmy, a robot powered by fluid air-water actuators

Disney Robot With Air-Water Actuators Shows Off "Very Fluid" Motions

Like other Disney creations, Jimmy looks rather magical.

While humanoid robots can be painfully slow, Jimmy moves with lifelike speed and grace. A video posted earlier this year shows the robot waving at people, doing a little dance, drumming on a table. Just as impressive, Jimmy can safely operate near people, and by “near” we mean in contact with them. In the video, the robot plays patty-cake with a kid and even pats her cheeks—something you don’t see very often in human-robot interaction experiments.

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Whip tail robot

Whip-Tail Robot Learning to Manipulate Objects Like Indiana Jones

Robots are learning how to use tails in all sorts of different ways. U.C. Berkeley had that brilliant idea of using an active tail to control the orientation of a robot in mid air, and that basic idea has expanded to running robots with and even robotic cars looking for hyper maneuverability. The thing that all of these robots have in common with each other, and with animals, is that their tails are actuated: in order to function, they depend on motors to get them to move around and do stuff. And of course they’re actuated, because what use would they be if you couldn’t control them?

Young-Ho Kim and Dylan A. Shell from Texas A&M University recently published a paper in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters on “Using a Compliant, Unactuated Tail to Manipulate Objects.” Rather than relying on motors to actuate the tail, they hooked up a “a flexible rope-like structure” (aka a piece of rope, as far as we can tell) to a little RC car to see what they could do with it. You can think of the tail like Indiana Jones’ whip, and just like Indy has shown us across four and a half movies, there’s a lot you can do with some cleverly manipulated rope if you know what you’re doing.

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Quadcopter flies close to a window

Maybe Drone Privacy Shouldn't Be a Federal Case

Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s new drone rules went into effect. While many drone enthusiasts were pleased to see some long-awaited progress on this front, the folks at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., don’t count in that group. They’ve been wrangling in court with the FAA over the lack of privacy safeguards in the new regulations—an issue that has dogged drone regulation for years.

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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

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Erico Guizzo
 
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Evan Ackerman
 
 
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