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Video Friday: Mini Pupper

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
yellow robot puppy

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. 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!):

IROS 2021 – September 27-1, 2021 – [Online Event]
Robo Boston – October 1-2, 2021 – Boston, MA, USA
WearRAcon Europe 2021 – October 5-7, 2021 – [Online Event]
ROSCon 2021 – October 20-21, 2021 – [Online Event]

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

Mini Pupper is now on Kickstarter!

The basic kit is $250, which includes just the custom parts, so you'll need to add your own 3D printed parts, some of the electronics, and the battery. A complete Mini Pupper kit is $500, or get it fully assembled for an extra $60.

Everything should (with all the usual Kickstarter caveats in mind) ship in November, which is plenty of time to get it to me for the holidays (for any of my family reading this).

[ Mini Pupper ]

An Inflatable robotic hand design gives amputees real-time tactile control and enables a wide range of daily activities, such as zipping a suitcase, shaking hands, and petting a cat. The smart hand is soft and elastic, weighs about half a pound, and costs a fraction of comparable prosthetics.

[ MIT ]

Among the first electronic mobile robots were the experimental machines of neuroscientist W. Grey Walter. Walter studied the brain's electrical activity at the Burden Neurological Institute (BNI) near Bristol, England. His battery-powered robots were models to test his theory that a minimum number of brain cells can control complex behavior and choice.

[ NMAH ]

Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) have the potential to be employed for surveillance and monitoring tasks. By perching and staring on one or multiple locations aerial robots can save energy while concurrently increasing their overall mission time without actively flying. In this paper, we address the estimation, planning, and control problems for autonomous perching on inclined surfaces with small quadrotors using visual and inertial sensing.


Human environments are filled with large open spaces that are separated by structures like walls, facades, glass windows, etc. Most often, these structures are largely passive offering little to no interactivity. In this paper, we present Duco, a large-scale electronics fabrication robot that enables room-scale & building-scale circuitry to add interactivity to vertical everyday surfaces. Duco negates the need for any human intervention by leveraging a hanging robotic system that automatically sketches multi-layered circuity to enable novel large-scale interfaces.

The key idea behind Duco is that it achieves single-layer or multi-layer circuit fabrication on 2D surfaces as well as 2D cutouts that can be assembled into 3D objects by loading various functional inks (e.g., conductive, dielectric, or cleaning) to the wall-hanging drawing robot, as well as employing an optional laser cutting head as a cutting tool.

[ Duco ]

Thanks Sai!

When you can't have robots fight each other in person because pandemic, you have to get creative.


Baidu researchers have proposed a novel reinforcement learning-based evolutionary foot trajectory generator that can continually optimize the shape of the output trajectory for a quadrupedal robot, from walking over the balance beam to climbing up and down slopes. Our approach can solve a range of challenging tasks in simulation by learning from scratch, including walking on a balance beam and crawling through a cave. To further verify the effectiveness of our approach, we deploy the controller learned in the simulation on a 12-DoF quadrupedal robot, and it can successfully traverse challenging scenarios with efficient gaits.

[ Paper ]

This is neat: a robot with just one depth camera can poke around a little bit where it can't see, and then use those contacts to give it a better idea of what's in front of it.


Here's a robotics problem: objects that look very similar but aren't! How can you efficiently tell the difference between objects that look almost the same, and how do you know when you need to make that determination?

[ Paper ]

Hyundai Motor Group has introduced its first project with Boston Dynamics. Meet the new 'Factory Safety Service Robot', based on Boston Dynamics' quadruped, Spot, and to support industrial site safety.

[ Boston Dynamics ]

I don't necessarily know how much credit to give DARPA for making this happen, but even small drones make constrained obstacle avoidance look so easy now.

[ ARL ]

Huh, maybe all in-home robots should have spiky wheels and articulated designs, since this seems very effective.

[ Transcend Robotics ]

Robotiq, who makes the grippers that everybody uses for everything, now has a screw driving solution.

[ Robotiq ]

Kodiak's latest autonomous truck design is interesting because of how they've structured their sensors: almost everything seems to be in two chonky pods that take the place of the wing mirrors.

[ Kodiak ]

Thanks Kylee!

An ICRA 2021 plenary talk from Robert Wood, on Soft Robotics for Delicate and Dexterous Manipulation.

[ ICRA 2021 ]

This week's Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar features Henrik Christensen on "Deploying autonomous vehicles for micro-mobility on a university campus."

[ UMD ]

The Conversation (1)
Ajay Adumyakala03 Oct, 2021

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

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

12 min read
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

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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