Robots in Photos: SpotMini, iCub, and More from IROS 2018

Couldn't make it to IROS? Check out some pics of what you missed in Madrid

6 min read
Marc Raibert with SpotMini robot from Boston Dynamics
Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS is over, and we have a huge pile of shiny new robotics research to bring you over the next few weeks. Before we start in on that, here’s a gallery of some pictures from the IROS keynotes and expo floor, featuring robots we know and love along with some brand new robots that we’ve never seen before. Enjoy!

IROS 2018IROS was officially opened by His Majesty King Felipe VI, setting a precedent for every robotics conference from now on. And the King actually bothered to give an interesting and surprisingly well informed speech about the future of robotics in society, which was a very kingly thing to do.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018If you need a roboticist to follow up the King of Spain, it would be hard to choose someone better than Marc Raibert from Boston Dynamics.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Marc brought a SpotMini along with him to perform some tricks, and also showed some new footage of the robot conducting autonomous construction inspections in Japan, which seems like it could be the first real use-case for a commercial version of the robot.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018This iCub comes from Daniele Pucci’s lab at IIT— they’re the ones trying to get the little robot to fly by strapping jet engines to it. They’re also working on immersive telepresence, so you can control a physical iCub through virtual reality.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018With the iCub VR system, you see through the robot’s eyes, and when you walk, the iCub walks. When you wave, the iCub waves, too.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Kinova announced a brand new robot arm at IROS, the Gen3. It’s lighter, more powerful, inherently safe, and comes with an integrated vision system.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018We finally got to meet Haru in person! Honda Research’s experimental social robot will be part of a larger project as a hardware platform in the Socially Intelligent Robotics Consortium, and we’ll have more on this for you in the near future.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018ANYmal has been busy lately—at IROS, we saw a whole bunch of pictures of recent testing that ANYbotics has been conducting at an offshore wind farm, with the goal of replacing human workers who are otherwise stuck out there for weeks at a time.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018This incredibly awesome steampunk-ish chest belongs to diverBOT, a transforming humanoid robot submarine from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Check out those thrusters and gauges! We’ll have more on this thing for you soon.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Sweaty, from Hochschule Offenburg in Germany, normally competes in RoboCup. But at IROS, it was performing a classic cups and balls magic trick as part of the Robot Magic competition.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018The qb SoftHand is something you might need if you visit Spain, because it knows how to drive stick. One motor powers 19 degrees of freedom in the fingers for underactuated, flexible grasping.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Toyota’s newer, smaller, sleeker, and smarter HSR practices its grasping—if you want to know what time it is, the robot will happily locate a clock and bring it to you. It’s the future, folks.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Teo was born in 2012 at Carlos III University of Madrid. It has 24 degrees of freedom, a slick chestpiece, and a plate stapled to its forearm, because tapas, I assume.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018PAL Robotics brought a whole bunch of robots to the IROS expo. Along with REEM-C, they also had TALOS and a big pile of TIAGos.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Sneaking up behind this poor little giraffe is SQUIRREL, a robot designed to tidy up rooms. Tested out earlier this year in the place that defines all rooms, IKEA, SQUIRREL can locate out-of-place objects on the floor and place them where they belong.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Shadow Robots ’ hand spent most of IROS ineffectively force-squeezing the heads of far away security guards between its dexterous fingers.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018QTrobot is such a QT. There’s both a research version and a version designed for interaction with autistic children, and the robot has been shown to increase attention while decreasing anxiety.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018SIAR (Sewer Inspection Autonomous Robot) inspects sewers so that you don’t have to. It can expand and contract its wheelbase to keep itself out of the grossness as much as possible.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018Pepper also participated in some IROS competitions, including the European Robotics League’s Consumer Service Robots tournament. I don’t think the tournament challenged the robots to accurately interpret mirrors, although that would certainly have made things interesting.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018EXOTrainer is a little exoskeleton designed for children with spinal muscular atrophy. It can walk and balance on its own, and provide physical therapy for anyone strapped into it.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

IROS 2018A human shares a moment with Seed Robotics’ RH7D robotic hand.Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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