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Video Friday: Dusty at Work

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
A small rectangular robot with large orange cartoon eyes on a construction site

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!):

ROSCon 2021 – October 20-21, 2021 – [Online Event]
Silicon Valley Robot Block Party – October 23, 2021 – Oakland, CA, USA

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


I love watching Dusty Robotics' field printer at work. I don't know whether it's intentional or not, but it's go so much personality somehow.

[ Dusty Robotics ]

A busy commuter is ready to walk out the door, only to realize they've misplaced their keys and must search through piles of stuff to find them. Rapidly sifting through clutter, they wish they could figure out which pile was hiding the keys. Researchers at MIT have created a robotic system that can do just that. The system, RFusion, is a robotic arm with a camera and radio frequency (RF) antenna attached to its gripper. It fuses signals from the antenna with visual input from the camera to locate and retrieve an item, even if the item is buried under a pile and completely out of view.

While finding lost keys is helpful, RFusion could have many broader applications in the future, like sorting through piles to fulfill orders in a warehouse, identifying and installing components in an auto manufacturing plant, or helping an elderly individual perform daily tasks in the home, though the current prototype isn't quite fast enough yet for these uses.

[ MIT ]

CSIRO Data61 had, I'm pretty sure, the most massive robots in the entire SubT competition. And this is how you solve doors with a massive robot.

[ CSIRO ]

You know how robots are supposed to be doing things that are too dangerous for humans? I think sailing through a hurricane qualifies..

This second video, also captured by this poor Saildrone, is if anything even worse:

[ Saildrone ] via [ NOAA ]

Soft Robotics can handle my taquitos anytime.

[ Soft Robotics ]

This is brilliant, if likely unaffordable for most people.

[ Eric Paulos ]

I do not understand this robot at all, nor can I tell whether it's friendly or potentially dangerous or both.

[ Keunwook Kim ]

This sort of thing really shouldn't have to exist for social home robots, but I'm glad it does, I guess?

It costs $100, though.

[ Digital Dream Labs ]

If you watch this video closely, you'll see that whenever a simulated ANYmal falls over, it vanishes from existence. This is a new technique for teaching robots to walk by threatening them with extinction if they fail.

But seriously how do I get this as a screensaver?

[ RSL ]

Zimbabwe Flying Labs' Tawanda Chihambakwe shares how Zimbabwe Flying Labs got their start, using drones for STEM programs, and how drones impact conservation and agriculture.

[ Zimbabwe Flying Labs ]

DARPA thoughtfully provides a video tour of the location of every artifact on the SubT Final prize course. Some of them are hidden extraordinarily well.

Also posted by DARPA this week are full prize round run videos for every team; here are the top three: MARBLE, CSIRO Data61, and CERBERUS.

[ DARPA SubT ]

An ICRA 2021 plenary talk from Fumihito Arai at the University of Tokyo, on "Robotics and Automation in Micro & Nano-Scales."

[ ICRA 2021 ]

This week's UPenn GRASP Lab Seminar comes from Rahul Mangharam, on "What can we learn from Autonomous Racing?"

[ UPenn ]

The Conversation (3)
E_Z Points09 Oct, 2021

The headline on the RFusion robot video is misleading.

The robot does not find and retrieve missing objects, it finds and retrieves RFID tags.

E_Z Points09 Oct, 2021

I would think it a very good idea, to keep the Post-plant3 away from children.

E_Z Points09 Oct, 2021

"Soft Robotics can handle my taquitos anytime."

You're starting to sound like Howard Wolowitz.

Illustration showing an astronaut performing mechanical repairs to a satellite uses two extra mechanical arms that project from a backpack.

Extra limbs, controlled by wearable electrode patches that read and interpret neural signals from the user, could have innumerable uses, such as assisting on spacewalk missions to repair satellites.

Chris Philpot

What could you do with an extra limb? Consider a surgeon performing a delicate operation, one that needs her expertise and steady hands—all three of them. As her two biological hands manipulate surgical instruments, a third robotic limb that’s attached to her torso plays a supporting role. Or picture a construction worker who is thankful for his extra robotic hand as it braces the heavy beam he’s fastening into place with his other two hands. Imagine wearing an exoskeleton that would let you handle multiple objects simultaneously, like Spiderman’s Dr. Octopus. Or contemplate the out-there music a composer could write for a pianist who has 12 fingers to spread across the keyboard.

Such scenarios may seem like science fiction, but recent progress in robotics and neuroscience makes extra robotic limbs conceivable with today’s technology. Our research groups at Imperial College London and the University of Freiburg, in Germany, together with partners in the European project NIMA, are now working to figure out whether such augmentation can be realized in practice to extend human abilities. The main questions we’re tackling involve both neuroscience and neurotechnology: Is the human brain capable of controlling additional body parts as effectively as it controls biological parts? And if so, what neural signals can be used for this control?

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