Video Friday: Sony's Home Robot, MegaBots Duel, and Six-Legged Zebros

Sony's new robot is a family social robot called Xperia Hello!
Photo: Sony
Say hello to Xperia Hello!

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!):

ICUAS 2017 – October 22-29, 2017 – Miami, Fla., USA
Robótica 2017 – November 7-11, 2017 – Curitiba, Brazil
Humanoids 2017 – November 15-17, 2017 – Birmingham, U.K.
iREX 2017 – November 29-2, 2017 – Toyko, Japan

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


Sony has a new social home robot of their own, the Xperia Hello:

I like the design, but it costs over $1,100.

Sony ]


If you missed the heavily-scripted-and-edited-and-not-at-all-live-but-still-pretty-entertaining Giant Robot fight this week, here you go.

[ MegaBots ]


Apollo is a fixed-base manipulation platform at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems who seems to enjoy playing with puny humans.

Vincent Berenz ]


Mohammed wrote to us from Omdurman Islamic University in Sudan to share this video of his final-year project, a research and exploration rover that he and three other electrical engineering students built from scratch:

The project is a wheeled robot for use in research and exploration. This robot can be used to investigate hazardous and dangerous environments, can lift objects, and take pictures and record videos. The body of robot gives you the ability to add components and tools to make the robot more effective.

[ OIU ]

Thanks Mohammed!


I still want a robotic exoskeleton to give me superpowers, but I suppose they’re good for other things, too.

Ekso Bionics ]


Zebro is an autonomous robot designed on the foundations of RHex. Zebro is designed for education and research to study and develop novel control methodologies for complex robot platforms.

Zebros are a bit like insects, but the friendliest types you could imagine. Carried on sturdy legs and armed with audio sensors, Zebros are able to explore difficult and dangerous terrain. In search of survivors following an earthquake, for example. To do so, they form a so-called self-deploying sensor network. Once one Zebro in the swarm observes something of interest, it transmits a signal to the closest other Zebro. This Zebro passes on the signal, creating a path that could lead the emergency services directly to the victim trapped under the rubble. It is comparable to a colony of ants looking for food: one ant is not capable of indicating where the food is to the group, but using their own intelligent communication network, the group as a whole does know where to head. That is the strength of a swarm.

Zebro ]


I never thought watching a robot tie rebar could be so soothing.

fuRo ]


I’m still skeptical of Project Wing specifically (or drone delivery in general) for a bunch of reasons, but they seem to be making progress, or at least they’re still making videos about their burrito delivery experiments, this time in Australia, so that’s good I guess?

[ Project Wing ]


In June 2017, WeRobotics teamed up with the Peruvian Ministry and other partners to field test a fleet of affordable cargo drones in the Amazon Rainforest. The majority of the flights were carried out by our Peru Flying Labs and UAV del Peru. During the course of two weeks, we field-tested a dozen drones including fixed-wings and hybrid drones; carrying a variety of medical payloads (medicines, diagnostic tests, blood samples) across a range of distances (stretching from 2km to 126km).

[ WeRobotics ]


The idea of distributed propulsion for aircraft is a good one, but Volocopter, as far as I can tell, is selling a vision of autonomy with very little to back it up:

Why can’t companies wait until they have a real milestone or demo before releasing this kind of corporate video?

Also, I’m inherently suspicious of anyone who uses the word “reinventing” nowadays.

[ Volocopter ]


Some fiiine motor skills from Shadow’s dexterous hand:

[ Shadow Robot ]


Dressing is a fundamental task of everyday living and robots offer an opportunity to assist people with motor impairments. While several robotic systems have explored robot-assisted dressing, few have considered how a robot can manage errors in human pose estimation, or adapt to human motion in real time during dressing assistance. In addition, estimating pose changes due to human motion can be challenging with vision-based techniques since dressing is often intended to visually occlude the body with clothing. We present a method to track a person’s pose in real time using capacitive proximity sensing. This sensing approach gives direct estimates of distance with low latency, has a high signal-to-noise ratio, and has low computational requirements. Using our method, a robot can adjust for errors in the estimated pose of a person and physically follow the contours and movements of the person while providing dressing assistance. As part of an evaluation of our method, the robot successfully pulled the sleeve of a hospital gown and a cardigan onto the right arms of 10 human participants, despite arm motions and large errors in the initially estimated pose of the person’s arm. We also show that a capacitive sensor is unaffected by visual occlusion of the body and can sense a person’s body through fabric clothing.

[ HRL ]


Autonomous robot combat isn’t yet the most exciting kind of robot combat, but at least it’s the most technically impressive, I guess? Here’s the final match from the 2nd ROBO-ONE Autonomous Biped Robot Fight Tournament:

Lots more at Biped Robot News.

[ BRN ]


Harmoniously weaving together the art of dance and the science of mechanical engineering, Huang Yi performs a man-machine dance duet with KUKA -- a robot he conceptualized and programmed -- set to stirring cello by Joshua Roman.

[ TedX ]


FightTube is a modular tube-shaped robot. That you fight other modular tube-shaped robots with.

[ Verbal Machines ]


OC’s newest snake robot is much more than a snake robot—it’s a snake robot mounted on a robot arm mounted on robot mobile base. And it comes with a dual-lidar-head.

[ OC Robotics ]


Here’s what it’s like to work at Piaggio Fast Forward:

Shockingly, PFF would like you to know that they’re currently hiring.

[ PFF ]


Udacity’s robotics nanodegree program interviews Felipe Chavez, co-founder and CEO of Kiwi, about the delicious fruit that they invented. Or maybe about campus delivery robots.

[ Kiwi ]


If you missed the Voyager 40th Anniversary event at JPL in August, here’s a fascinating hour long recording of the panel discussing, featuring some of the people who worked on humanity’s most distant robot.

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, marked 40 years of operation and exploration in August/September 2017. In this panel presentation, hear behind-the-scenes accounts from original and current mission team members as they describe the engineering challenges and momentous science achievements of the mission. This program was recorded at JPL on August 24, 2017.

[ JPL ]


This week’s CMU Robotics Institute seminar is extra special for two reasons: First, the talk (from James McBride, Senior Technical Leader – Autonomous Vehicles Research & Advanced Engineering at Ford) is particularly interesting. And second, you can occasionally see the back of my head.

This presentation will highlight the history of autonomous vehicle development at Ford Motor Company and elsewhere within the industry, with an emphasis on discussing some of the difficult remaining challenges to be solved. Additionally, examples illustrating the broader range of potential applications for AI and Robotics within the transportation industry will be touched upon.

[ CMU RI ]


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