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Sony's new robot is a family social robot called Xperia Hello!

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

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.


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Vantage Robotics' Snap drone weighs just 620 grams and is held together with magnets, allowing it to come apart on impact.

CNN Uses Vantage Robotics' Snap Drone to Win FAA Fly-Over-People Waiver

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Small UAS Rule (also known as Part 107) has provisions to obtaining waivers to the usual requirements for flying drones in the United States. For example, you’re not generally allowed to fly drones at night, although the FAA has granted quite a few waivers allowing flight after dark.

But another rule is that you can’t fly drones over people who are not part of your operations, and until about a week ago, the FAA hadn’t waived that rule for anybody. Now it has, for CNN. The FAA is allowing the cable news network to use a drone to obtain video over uninvolved people, even crowds assembled at places like sporting events.

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Giant Robot Duel

Watch the World’s First Giant Robot Fight

UPDATE 11 p.m. ET: MegaBots has just uploaded video of the fight to YouTube. We won’t spoil it for you. Watch to find out who won:

In 2015, two American engineers, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, set out to build a giant human-piloted combat robot called Mk. II MegaBot, which could drive on tank tracks and fire 3-pound projectiles. The robot was pretty cool, they thought, but who would they fight? They decided to challenge the only other giant piloted robot in the world to a duel. That robot was a 4.5-metric-ton mech known as Kuratas and built by Suidobashi Heavy Industry, in Japan. The Japanese accepted the challenge. The fight was on.

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Laikago quadruped robot created by Chinese robotics startup Unitree

This Robotics Startup Wants to Be the Boston Dynamics of China

Of all the legged robots built in labs all over the world, few inspire more awe and reverence than Boston Dynamics’ quadrupeds.

Chinese roboticist Xing Wang has long been a fan of BigDog, AlphaDog, Spot, SpotMini, and other robots that Boston Dynamics has famously introduced over the years. “Marc Raibert … is my idol,” Wang once told us about the founder and president of Boston Dynamics.

Now Wang, with funding from a Chinese angel investor, has founded his own robotics company, called Unitree Robotics and based in Hangzhou, outside Shanghai. Wang says his plan is making legged robots as popular and affordable as smartphones and drones.

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Robotic creature designed by French robotics company Spoon

Video Friday: Robotic Creatures, ROS-Industrial, and Machine Knitting

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 TechEthics Conference – October 13, 2017 – Washington, D.C.
HAI 2017 – October 17-20, 2017 – Bielefeld, Germany
CBS 2017 – October 17-19, 2017 – Beijing, China
World MoveIt! Day – October 18, 2017 – Six locations worldwide
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.

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CMU snake robot in Mexico City after earthquake

What CMU's Snake Robot Team Learned While Searching for Mexican Earthquake Survivors

A few days after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico City last month, Carnegie Mellon University roboticists were contacted to see if their snake robots could help with search-and-rescue efforts. Mexican rescuers were still trying find people in the rubble of collapsed buildings, and even though several days had passed, they thought it’d be worth trying to bring in the snakebots. Within 24 hours, a team of CMU roboticists had packed their gear and headed out to the disaster site.

We spoke with Matt Travers, who was on the ground in Mexico City operating the robots, along with Howie Choset, who heads CMU’s Biorobotics Lab where the snake robots are developed, about their experience with using robots in a real disaster and how, although no survivors were found during the rescue missions they assisted with, they learned an enormous amount being on-site.

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UC Berkeley VelociRoach robot with tail

Cockroach Robot Grows Tail, Does Flips

The nice thing about making bio-inspired robots is that you can take inspiration from biology, but you don’t have to be constrained by it. Lots of different animals have lots of different adaptations that make them good at lots of different things, but (sadly) there isn’t really one SuperAnimal that incorporates all of these adaptations at once. With robots, we can make this happen.

UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, headed by Ron Fearing, has years of experience building all kinds of different flavors of robotic roaches, many of which have been modeled fairly closely on actual roaches. However, their latest roachbot (presented at IROS 2017) makes a notable departure from the original insect: It’s got a tail, which actual cockroaches don’t, meaning that it can flip itself over with ease.

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Sony Aibo robot dogs.

Sony Bringing Back Aibo Team to Develop New Robot Dog

When the Sony Aibo was discontinued in 2006, it was arguably the most sophisticated consumer robot that you could get your hands on. Aibo was smart, cute, fun. It was also hackable. Many people who owned Aibos loved their robots (perhaps a bit too much), and even more people wished they’d had one.

Now Aibo is back. Maybe. According to a recent report, Sony is reassembling the Aibo development team with the goal of releasing a new version of the little robot dog.

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Qoobo therapeutic robotic pet

Video Friday: MIT Origami Robots, Sphero Mini, and Headless Robotic Cat

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!):

Drone World Expo – October 2-4, 2017 – San Jose, Calif., USA
Latin American Robotics Week – October 12-14, 2017 – Valparaiso, Chile
IEEE TechEthics Conference – October 13, 2017 – Washington, D.C.
HAI 2017 – October 17-20, 2017 – Bielefeld, Germany
CBS 2017 – October 17-19, 2017 – Beijing, China
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.

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


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An Edible Actuator for Ingestible Robots

An Edible Actuator for Ingestible Robots

Researchers have long been trying to make electronics that are safe to eat. These include edible transistors, sensors, batteries, electrodes, and capacitors, which (if you put them together) are most of an edible robot. What’s been missing so far has been the thing that makes a robot distinct from a computing system, and that’s an edible actuator that would allow an ingestible robot to actually do something useful once you’ve swallowed it.

At IROS last week, researchers from EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, headed by Dario Floreano, presented a prototype of a completely edible soft pneumatic actuator made of gelatin. It probably doesn’t taste very good, but it’s biodegradable, biocompatible, and environmentally sustainable, and could enable all kinds of novel applications, as the researchers explain in their paper:

The components of such edible robots could be mixed with nutrient or pharmaceutical components for digestion and metabolization. Potential applications are disposable robots for exploration, digestible robots for medical purposes in humans and animals, and food transportation where the robot does not require additional payload because the robot is the food.

The robot is the food. Whoa.

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

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York City
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.
 

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