Video Friday: BratWurst Bot, Facebook Drone, and Powerline Ape

BratWurst Bot

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!):

IEEE WCCI 2016 – July 25-29, 2016 – Vancouver, Canada
RO-MAN 2016 – August 26-31, 2016 – New York, N.Y., USA
ECAI 2016 – August 29-2, 2016 – The Hague, Holland
NASA SRRC Level 2 – September 2-5, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
ISyCoR 2016 – September 7-9, 2016 – Ostrava, Czech Republic


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


In Germany, a robot will handle your hot sausage:

Arne Rönnau from FZI told us a bit more about the project:

Our BratWurst Bot is an autonomous robot that grills sausages all by itself. It is made of off the shelf robotic components: Universal Robots UR-10 arm, Schunk PG-70 gripper, two standard RGB cameras, normal grill tongs and gas grill. For interaction with the guests it was also equipped with a tablet, chef hat and strong speakers.

The BratWurst Bot localized the sausages on its pickup tray and then picked them up with a planned motion. After placing the sausage on a virtual slot on the grill, the robot continues to put more and more sausages on the grill as long as there is enough time until the next sausage has to be turned. The developed BratWurstManager is able to schedule turning, picking and serving more than 10 sausages at the same time. Each sausage is grilled multiple times from each side to get a delicious bratwurst taste.

The BratWurst Bot is a professional BBQ-Chef and therefore has a nice chef hat with an interactive tablet-based face. Its eyes follow the TCP of the robot when it is operating on the grill or on the pickup tray. It also talks to the guests (in German) and gives some funny statements what it will do next. The 2000 guests at the Stallwächter Party in Berlin loved the BratWurst Bot. In total, our robot made more than 200 sausages. Actually, Angela Merkel also was at this party… but unfortunately, she did not order a bratwurst… ;)

[ FZI ]

Thanks Arne!


Do NOT play with your robot in the sand:

[ Alexandre Mazel ]


Ohhh yeeeaaahhh gotta get me one of these:

Emma, the Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, isn't designed to replace a human masseuse, but rather help them treat more patients, more effectively. Personally, I'd rather just have the robot rather than some stranger prodding away at all of my bits, and I might get that chance, since Emma is in the process of being commercialized. Hooray!

[ AITreat ] via [ NTU ]

Thanks Conghui!


We've been begging someone to go hang out around Boston Dynamics with a video camera just to see what happens, and a Reddit user's mom went and did it and look what she saw:

[ Reddit ]


I don't think I've ever seen a master slave controller designed to work while you're sitting inside the slave robot:

This video shows the operation of the head, the arms and the hands of a big humanoid robot. The pilot gets on the cockpit inside the robot. He uses master-slave controller. The robot grabs a cup and lifts it up. There are three cameras on the head, and on the both shoulders. Pilot sees the camera image on the screen. We have been developing a big humanoid robot since 2010. The robot is 13 feet in the height, and 300 kilograms in the weight.

[ Hajime Research Institute ]


Crowdfunding requests for drones don't get much more worthy than this:

[ Mine Kafon ] via [ Kickstarter ]


From Robin Ritz at ETH Zurich:

This video demonstrates a new algorithm for robust hover control of a tailsitter flying machine. The tailsitter is able to recover from any orientation, including upside down. The algorithm demonstrated in the video is based on Optimal Control. Optimal trajectories for a set of initial orientations are precomputed and the corresponding initial desired body rates are stored in a small lookup table (500 entries). An outer control loop running at 50 Hz reads the desired body rates for the current orientation from the lookup table, and feeds them to an inner control loop. The inner control loop runs at 1000 Hz and tracks the desired body rates with the two propellers and the two flaps using feedback from a rate gyroscope. The resulting real-time computational complexity is extremely low.

[ IDSC ]

Thanks Markus!


Romeo looks a little shakey, even under teleoperation, but if you're thirsty, he can still pour you a drink:

[ Romeo ]


The inspection of power lines is critical to maintaining the integrity of the distribution and transmission grid. Currently, inspection is carried out by a team of workers on the line or by helicopter patrols. These methods are labour-intensive, dangerous and expensive. The focus of this project is to develop an autonomous robot which is capable of inspecting power lines. This removes humans from the dangerous scenario and instead lets them control the robot from a safe position on the ground. Alternatively, the robot autonomously inspects the lines and the data can be analysed once the robot has completed its inspections. A prototype version of the robot was developed which confirmed key aspects of the project such as trajectory generation/optimisation, nonlinear (feedback) control design, electronics and software, and the mechanical design.

Developed by Javaad Patel and Prof. Edward Boje at the University of Cape Town.

[ UCT ]


Robots have been building cars for a long, long time. Robots building cars collaboratively with humans, however, is a relatively new thing:

Our new robots can do amazing things – from “shaking hands”, to making a cup of coffee, to enabling us to trial a new approach to building cars. These special collaborative robots – or co-bots – are helping workers fit shock absorbers to Fiestas, a task that requires pinpoint accuracy, strength, and a high level of dexterity; though for this video we also wanted to show some of their more light-hearted capabilities.

[ Ford ]


Does a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft indefinitely and provide internet to everyone below it make more sense than just setting up a bunch of ground infrastructure? Facebook is trying to find out:

[ Facebook ]


Geez, CMU's BOSS is ten years old already:

[ CMU ]


Using tethered robots for rough terrain exploration is a great idea. Watching this video is not as great of an idea if you're susceptible to motion sickness. Something about the spinning, I think. Ugh.

This video shows some highlights from a field test we conducted in June 2016 at an old sand and gravel pit in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Tethered Robot eXplorer (TReX) was designed to operate on steep and rough terrain by using a tether that carries part of its load, provides power, and transmits data to an operator. We demonstrate TReX was able to descend down several cliffs and other steep terrain to build 3D models.

[ ASRL ]


This "World's Fastest Production Drone" should probably not be the first drone you buy for yourself, but if you know what you're doing, it looks like fun:

Teal will cost just over $1300 and should ship before Christmas.

[ Teal ]


Autonomous vision-based flight in the university hall at 4 m/s. In this video, the drone follows an eight-shaped and a circular trajectory, respectively. The quadrotor uses only a single down-looking camera and an IMU as the only sensors. Visual SLAM (SVO 2.0), visual-inertial sensor fusion, planning, and control run fully onboard on an smartphone computer (Odroid U3, ARM Cortex A9). SVO 2.0 takes 10 ms per frame on the Odroid. More info about our system in our papers below.

[ RPG ]


The robots of Star Wars aren't usually the types to make it into Video Friday, because they're (usually) not real. But we're giving a pass to this hour long video exploring all of the practical robotics that went into making BB-8 seem so alive:

[ YouTube ] via [ io9 ]


The team developing NASA's next rover mission to Mars has received a go-ahead from the agency to proceed with building the rover for launch in 2020. A July 15 Facebook Live event from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory featured updated news about the Mars 2020 rover and its mission. It will be almost identical to the Curiosity rover currently on Mars, but will have enhanced landing technology, the ability to prepare soil and rock samples for return to Earth and microphones to capture sound. The rover will look for signs of past life in a region of the Red Planet where the ancient environment was favorable for microbial life.

[ NASA ]


Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity are Mars robots with charisma (and wheels), but Viking made it there first, 40 years ago. NASA has been celebrating Viking's 40th anniversary with a series of panels, including this one on the history of the mission.

[ Viking ]


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