Robotic Motion Control Enables Breathtaking High-Speed Video

Watch this spectacular demo reel from a German robotic film company

1 min read
Robotic Motion Control Enables Breathtaking High-Speed Video

What can you make with a talented robot, a talented crew, and some high-speed cameras? Slow-motion movie magic, I tell you! Magic.

Isn't that spectacular? The company, called The Marmalade, is based in Germany. While it looks like they specialize in high-speed work, what they do is otherwise very similar to San Francisco's own Bot & Dolly, the robot film company behind this epic piece of footage, which has something to do with Louis Vuitton, I guess, but it really doesn't matter.

Anyway, robots helping out with movies like this is a great example of robots showing up in places where we wouldn't necessarily expect them and suddenly making everything 100 percent more amazing. It makes you wonder what the next industry to be unexpectedly transformed by robots will be.

[ The Marmalade ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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