Video Friday: Professor Ishiguro’s New Robot Child, and More

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Hiroshi Ishiguro's Ibuki lifelike robot child
Image: Ishiguro Lab/JST Erato via YouTube
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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 few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICMA 2018 – August 5-8, 2018 – Changchun, China
SSRR 2018 – August 6-8, 2018 – Philadelphia, Pa., USA
ISR 2018 – August 24-27, 2018 – Shenyang, China
BioRob 2018 – August 26-29, 2018 – University of Twente, Netherlands
RO-MAN 2018 – August 27-30, 2018 – Nanjing, China
ELROB 2018 – September 24-28, 2018 – Mons, Belgium
ARSO 2018 – September 27-29, 2018 – Genoa, Italy
ROSCon 2018 – September 29-30, 2018 – Madrid, Spain
IROS 2018 – October 1-5, 2018 – Madrid, Spain

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


Don’t panic, but Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro has a new very (but not completely) lifelike robot child, which is supposed to be around 10 years old. Its name is Ibuki.

Okay, panic if you want to. The robot even can fake walking, as long as you only look at it from the waist up:

[ Ishiguro Lab ]


More jet-powered flying iCub

Still in simulation, of course, but I like that they’re already at aggressive maneuvering.

[ IIT ]


Children love him, he waves his ears, babbles, sings, dances and demands attention - the Furby. In the 90s, the electronic game companion, originally from Japan, was found in almost every nursery. In 2016, the manufacturer Hasbro then launched Furby Connect on the market. The new, smart Furby can be connected to the smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. The dangers of this new function are demonstrated by an experiment conducted by the IT Security Competence Center, which is supervised by Jochen Rill, Head of Cryptography.

“Alexa, turn off the light!” commands the pink Furby in the experimental setup of the scientist. And the smart lighting system goes off. The team at the IT Security Competence Center has succeeded in modifying the Furby so that it can issue commands to the language assistant Amazon Echo, which it willingly carries out. “Furby Connect has an unsecured radio interface that lets you tell it anything you want,” explains Jochen Rill. If an electronic locking system were connected to the language assistant, hackers could even open the front door of Alexa with Furby’s help. The FZI scientist explains why this is possible: “Language assistants like Alexa only process what they hear, but not who the order comes from.”

How do you properly secure your Furby? These researchers recommend taking out its batteries. So many problems solved.

[ FZI ]


These 6 minutes of video show Pepper conveying different emotions through animations. Many of them are very convincing, since they’ve been designed by professional animators, who sometimes had a very hard job. For example, if you’ve always wanted to know what an “alienated” Pepper looks like, skip to 5:18.

This research comes from Mina Marmpena, Angelica Lim, and Torbjørn S. Dahl, and the paper is available at the link below.

[ Paper ]


Expecting a shiny new Misty I in the mail? Here’s what to do when it arrives.

[ Misty Robotics ]


Looks like NTT Docomo’s 5G teleoperated robot is practicing for disaster relief:

[ NTT Docomo ]


The aerial robot presented here for the first time was based on a quadrotor structure, which is capable of unique morphing performances based on an actuated elastic mechanism. Like birds, which are able to negotiate narrow apertures despite their relatively large wingspan, our Quad-Morphing robot was able to pass through a narrow gap at a high forward speed of 2.5 m/s by swiftly folding up the structure supporting its propellers. A control strategy was developed to deal with the loss of controllability on the roll axis resulting from the folding process, while keeping the robot stable until it has crossed the gap. In addition, a complete recovery procedure was also implemented to stabilize the robot after the unfolding process. A new metric was also used to quantify the gain in terms of the gap-crossing ability in comparison with that observed with classical quadrotors with rigid bodies. The performances of these morphing robots are presented, and experiments performed with a real flying robot passing through a small aperture by reducing its wingspan by 48 percent are described and discussed.

[ Paper ]

Thanks Valentin!


Roboticists Karl von Ellenrieder and Satyandra Gupta may work on opposite U.S. coasts, but they envision the same future for work on the water—fleets of boats and ships operating more safely, efficiently and less expensively, with the help of robotics. USVs, or unmanned surface vehicles, are basically robotic boats guided by humans, who may or may not be on board. Von Ellenrieder of Florida Atlantic University and Gupta of the University of Southern California say teams of humans working with robotic boats could transform jobs vital to society, such as bridge inspections, environmental monitoring, and search and rescue.

[ NSF ]

Thanks Laurie!


During the SATELLITE 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Northrop Grumman, a leader in the emerging space logistics market, debuted the next generation of in-orbit satellite serving technology with the introduction of Mission Extension Pods (MEPs) and the Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV). These two products join Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV), creating a suite of in-orbit satellite servicing products focused on extending the life of existing satellites.

[ Northrop Grumman ]


Get three more of these and put them on a robot, please:

[ Paper ]


This cleverly designed robotic hand by student Tezuka Sota is made entirely of paper, and is in the running for the 2018 James Dyson award.

[ James Dyson Award ]


As noisy and dirty as gasoline engines are, their power density really puts batteries to shame. This gas-powered hybrid quadcopter can fly for 2 hours with a 4-kg payload, or 1 hour with a 10-kg payload, and provides 8.5 kW of onboard power.

Probably sounds like a lawnmower being attacked by bees, though.

[ TFT ]


The TR-1 is a PR2-inspired mobile manipulator that’s mostly 3D printed and costs, relatively speaking, very little.

With two arms, it’s about $4,800.

[ Slate Robotics ]


The X-Series Robotic Arms is a new family of arms from Interbotix featuring the DYNAMIXEL X-Series Smart Servo Motors. The X-Series actuators offer higher torque, more efficient heat dissipation and better durability all at a smaller form factor over previous DYNAMIXEL servos.

[ Trossen ]


The DLR CLASH hand was presented recently at the AUTOMATICA 2018 (Munich) for a food handling scenario. The hand is developed within the EU-Project Soma (grant number H2020-ICT-645599). It is equipped with variable stiffness, the same technology which is used for the Awiwi hand of DLR’s humanoid David.

The hand is especially optimized for grasping a broad variety of fruits and vegetables; stiffness can be adapted according to the characteristics of the picked item. We think that the application of variable stiffness for soft robotic hands allows for a reliable and gentle grasping of delicate groceries. The CLASH hand has 3 fingers and 7 degrees of freedom in total, driven by 8 motors that allow separate tuning of grasping force and stiffness. The costs of the CLASH hand is kept low thanks to modularity, 3D-printed parts, off-the-shelf RC servo motors and Arduino boards.

[ DLR ]


Roboy is doing “research reviews.” The latest: “DeepMimic: Example-Guided Deep Reinforcement Learning of Physics-Based Character Skills” by Xue Bin Peng, Pieter Abbeel, Sergey Levine and Michiel van de Panne.

I was kind of hoping that Roboy itself would be doing these research reviews, but I guess it’s okay if a human does it instead. I guess.

[ Roboy ]


Listen to the buzzing and whirring of robots that help shape the future of space exploration. NASA Robotics Technologist Brian Roberts takes you on a sound tour of the lab where robots are tested for spaceflight.

Interesting, I guess, but we’re on YouTube, here—why not just show the video?

[ NASA ]


This video presents a broad overview of HEBI’s approach to robotics. The result is a powerful system that makes it easy to create customized professional grade robots.

[ HEBI Robotics ]


Welcome to Reach Robotics, creators of MekaMon, the world’s first gaming robot. We are marrying gaming with cutting-edge robotics and augmented reality to create next-gen entertainment experiences!

[ Reach Robotics ]


Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are developing the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration, a technology that could one day explore oceans under the ice layers of planetary bodies. These prototypes were tested in arctic lakes and seas near Barrow, Alaska.

[ JPL ]


Drone and chill with Team BlackSheep.

[ Team BlackSheep ]


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