Video Friday: Beams for Sale, Drone on a Leash, and Open Source Humanoid

Now's your chance to try out a Beam, if you live in Palo Alto. Or even if not

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Last night, Suitable Technologies opened a brand new store in the middle of Palo Alto, Calif., to give people a way to try out the Beam telepresence not-a-robot. Uniquely, the store will not have any humans in it at all, we’re told. Just Suitable employees from New York to Sydney, beaming in to interact with anyone who wanders into the store.

This is a good idea for Suitable, because people like me are always trying to describe the experience of using something like a telepresence robot, and (more often than not) failing. It's really one of those things that you have to try for yourself. And if you’re not local to Silicon Valley, you can make an appointment to beam in.

The store is mostly empty, except for Beams. At the moment, it’s staffed by Beam Pros, but the Beam Plus should show up eventually. There are also stations along the walls where you can test drive a Beam in a remote location for yourself.

If you (or your robots) happen to be trick-or-treating in Palo Alto tonight, Beams will be giving out candy until 8 p.m. on what I assume is the honor system, so feel free to take shameless advantage of that. The Beam store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 425 University Avenue.


First up, here's an episode of The Future Starts Here with Tiffany Shlain, featuring UC Berkeley robotics professor Ken Goldberg discussing the Uncanny Valley:

[ The Future Starts Here ]


Nao’s talents at the xylophone are (in this case) particularly impressive because the robot isn’t just replaying pre-programmed motions. Instead, it’s using vision to make sure that it’s hitting all the right notes, with auditory feedback as confirmation:

"Using Visual and Auditory Feedback for Instrument-Playing Humanoids," by D. Maier, R. Zohouri, M. Bennewitz. Presented at Humanoids 2014.


University of Maryland students demonstrate two of their experimental UAS. The first is a quad-rotor biplane that can takeoff and land vertically but fly like a traditional fixed wing in open flight to increase forward velocity. The second is a cyclocopter which can hover stably and is agile in the air.

[ VTOL.org ]


Poppy is a large, entirely open source, mostly 3D printed humanoid robot. It’s designed to be very easy to modify, so that users can quickly invent and test out all kinds of parts. 

Lots more info at the links below.

[ Poppy ] via [ RoboHub ]


We demonstrate the fully autonomous collaboration of an aerial and a ground robot in a mock-up disaster scenario. Within this collaboration, we make use of the individual capabilities and strengths of both robots. The aerial robot first maps an area of interest, then it computes the fastest mission for the ground robot to reach a spotted victim and deliver a first-aid kit. Such a mission includes driving and removing obstacles in the way while being constantly monitored and commanded by the aerial robot. Our mission- planning algorithm distinguishes between movable and fixed obstacles and considers both the time for driving and removing obstacles. The entire mission is executed without any human interaction once the aerial robot is launched and requires a minimal amount of communication between the robots. We describe both the hardware and software of our system and detail our mission-planning algorithm. We present exhaustive results of both simulation and real experiments. Our system was successfully demonstrated more than 20 times at Automatica and was awarded the KUKA Innovation Award. 

[ UZH ]


The (now very famous) gymnast robot almost, almost nails whatever this double move is:

[ YouTube ]


SkyWard, a leading software platform for the aerial robotics ecosystem, today announced the Urban SkyWays Project, the first end-to-end demonstration of a commercial drone network operated with full regulatory and insurance compliance.

SkyWard is partnering with NASA to incorporate technology and research from their UAS Traffic Management (UTM) System into the Urban Skyways Project. The first demonstrations will take place in Las Vegas, Vancouver, London, and Portland, Ore. Each city will showcase demonstrations such as drone deliveries, emergency-response capabilities, infrastructure inspection and network coordination.

It's about time!

[ Skyward ] via [ SUASNews ]


The only thing better than watching robots crash into stuff is watching robots crash into stuff in slow motion.

[ Sphero ]


We wrote about Display Swarm earlier this year. These videos, though, have some cool new stuff from recent journal articles and workshop presentations:

This last video is a little redundant with the first two, but it’s worth it to see the robots making funny faces based on Kinect gestures:

[ Display Swarm ]


The video shows some highlights from the RoboCup German Open @Home League competition, which took place in April 2014 in Magdeburg. The cognitive service robot Cosero, developed at University of Bonn, opens a bottle with a bottle opener, uses a tool to pick a saussage from the grill and to place it on a plate and grasps a tray with two gippers in order to deliver it.

[ NimBro ]


We covered Fotokite earlier this year, but Sergei Lupashin’s TED Talk makes for a very compelling demonstration of why it’s such a cool idea:

[ Fotokite ] via [ TED ]


One. Hundred. Donuts. Per. Minute.

If drone delivery can drop a fresh donut on my lap, I’ll suddenly be in favor of it.


Just in case you’ve forgotten what kinds of robots Clearpath Robotics makes, this video should remind you. As a special added bonus, it features footage taken by yours truly in a Portuguese harbor during IROS 2012.

And don’t forget about Jackal, of course.

[ Clearpath ]


This is the saddest looking robot penguin I’ve ever seen.

Via [ Mono-Tech ]


More from AUVSI’s RoboX competition in Singapore:

[ RobotX ]


To finish this week, here’s something weird. It's fake, but that's okay, because like we said, it’s weird.

Also, go have a look at the website. It’s…creepy!

[ Ex Machina ]

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