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Video Friday: Robotic Hummingbird, Baxter Treats Ebola, and Dexterous Bomb-Squad Robot

We spent most of this week out in Las Vegas checking out Daimler’s new Freightliner autonomous truck. If you haven’t seen it yet (and if you’re not following our Cars That Think blog), click here: it’s very cool. The rest of the week’s robotics news may pale (ever so slightly) in comparison with an event that included a light show projected onto the Hoover Dam, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our usual messy heap of Friday robot videos for you.

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Quadcopters Tied to a Pole Do Cooperative Acrobatics

Tying a quadcopter to a pole with a piece of rope seems like it defeats the entire point of having a quadcopter in the first place, since you’re preventing it from flying anywhere except in circles around the pole, which sounds boring.

It’s not boring.

You’ll want to watch this.

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World's Largest Swarm of Miniature Robot Submarines

Forty one tiny robot submarines is a lot of tiny robot submarines. It’s so many, in fact, that controlling them individually doesn’t make sense, and the only way to go is to give them levels of swarm intelligence, so that each individual robot can take care of itself while the swarm as a whole completes an objective.

The CoCoRo (Collective Cognitive Robotics) Project, sponsored by the European Commission, has been working with a heterogeneous swarm of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) since 2011, and the most important thing you need to know about these robots is that 20 of them are named Jeff.

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CyPhy Works Launches Drone That Makes Aerial Video Easy and Intuitive

CyPhy Works makes drones that are unique predominantly because they use a microfilament tether to carry power and data that allows for unlimited flight time and flawless high resolution video streaming. We would have expected that their next drone would have leveraged this technology somehow, but apparently, some engineers at CyPhy had a clever idea and decided to Kickstart a new drone that takes advantage of it with the ability to fly around while remaining completely level.

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Video Friday: Strong Microbots, Holographic Robots, and Extreme Drone Flying

Yeah, so, you know how Video Friday last week was lighter than normal, and I was all like, “We have a light week this week,” and everyone was sad and disappointed and sad? My bad. Turns out Google decided to kill YouTube user subscription RSS feeds as of last week and I may have, um, utterly failed to notice.

Oops.

So this week, we’re playing catch-up. And there’s a lot of catch-up, so let’s get going.

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Robot Arm Brings Humanity Back to the Stone Age

We usually associate robotics with tasks that are, if not high tech, at least modern in nature. That’s why it’s so cool to see a robot being adapted for a task that is explicitly ancient: scraping away at animal skins with replicas of stone tools found at archaeological sites.

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Fetch Robotics Introduces Fetch and Freight: Your Warehouse Is Now Automated

As of just a few months ago, all we knew about Fetch Robotics was that the core team from Unbounded Robotics, all of whom had been at Willow Garage before that, were working on not just one but two brand new robots designed to tackle the logistics market. Today, Fetch Robotics is announcing Fetch and Freight, a beefy mobile manipulator and zippy mobile base designed to automate logistics in places like warehouses. We have all the details, exclusive video of the robots in action, and an in-depth interview with Fetch Robotics CEO Melonee Wise about why these robots are exactly what companies like Amazon and Google desperately need.

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Oculus Rift-Based System Brings True Immersion to Telepresence Robots

Remote presence robots, as the name implies, act as your stand-in at a distant location, letting you move around and see and hear through a robotic surrogate. Space agencies, researchers, and the military have developed high-end telepresence systems that offer an immersive experience, but these units can cost millions of dollars. Consumer telepresence robots (like the Double or Beam), on the other hand, cost much less but can’t create a sense of immersion—you’re staring at a video feed on a computer screen, after all.

Now a team of roboticists at the University of Pennsylvania is using affordable sensors and actuators and virtual reality technologies like Oculus Rift to build a platform that offers the same capabilities of a high-end telepresence system at a reasonable cost. DORA (Dexterous Observational Roving Automaton) attempts to bring true immersion to teleoperated robots, by precisely tracking the motion of your head in all six degrees of freedom and then duplicating those motions on a real robot moving around the real world. Their goal is making the experience so immersive that, while operating the robot at a remote place, you’ll forget that you’re not actually there.

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Video Friday: Sphero Droid, Drone Jogging, and Robot Feeds You Marshmallows

One month from now, ICRA 2015 kicks off in Seattle, Washington. Are you ready? Got your hotel room? Awesome! We don’t, so let us know if we can crash with you, okay? Okay. Cool.

As we all know, ICRA stands for IEEE Conference of Robotic Awesomeness (or it should, at any rate). To get you excited, as if you weren’t already excited, the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society has put together a video of some of the coolest research that will be presented this year, with versions available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, French, and Italian. See what you have to look forward too, plus all the rest of the week’s videos, because that’s right, it’s Friday.

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
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Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
 
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Jason Falconer
Canada
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Angelica Lim
Tokyo, Japan
 

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