The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Video Friday: Angry Romibos, Rockets in Flight, and Real Dogs Dropping Robot Snakes

Enjoy this Video Friday as IEEE Spectrum Automaton heads to Switzerland and Germany for two weeks of robotics research

3 min read
Video Friday: Angry Romibos, Rockets in Flight, and Real Dogs Dropping Robot Snakes

This time next week, we'll be making our way from touring robotics labs in Switzerland up to Karlsruhe in Germany for ICRA, followed by a weekend in Stuttgart for ROSCon. But that's next week, and it's not next week yet, it's this week. So while we frantically start packing (how many pairs of underwear does one generally need for two weeks in Europe?), help yourself to some Video Friday.

Let's start with this, because it's 100 percent self explanatory:

See? Told you.


You know that shot from Apollo 13 where the rocket launches and nearly runs over a camera that's watching it from above? If not, watch it here, it's epic. That's was obviously CGI, but thanks to robots, we can now do it for real. Here's some footage of SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket shot using a hexacopter that gets pretty close:

[ SpaceX Grasshopper

NASA tried out a similar thing, using a quadcopter with a GoPro to film their Mighty Eagle lander:

[ NASA Mighty Eagle ]


We met Romibo at the Stanford Robot Block party a few weeks ago, and we're big fans. Partially, we're big fans because it's cute and fluffy, but it's got plenty of other stuff going for it too, with tons of sensors that makes it great for social robotics research:

[ Romibo ]


Would you like to know how not to demonstrate an autonomous car? Here's a hint: don't do this:



Jason proposes to his girlfriend Christina at Alamo Square park in San Francisco on April 7th 2013. Jason told Christina that he wanted to take some photos of her in the park. During the photo session the engagement ring flies in on top of a small RC helicopter and he proposes to her on the spot. Jason was shooting with a 5D mark II. Two aerial cameras were used on the helicopter, a Gopro Hero 3 black and an 808 keychain camera.


When Jason and Christina's kid gets a little older (and, you know, born and stuff), this is what it deserves. In fact, this is what all kids everywhere deserve:

[ Sakakibara Kikai ]


Check out this robotic snake from the Carnegie Mellon University Biorobotics Lab exploring a collapsed building. It's worth watching through to the end to see the canine deployment system, the most interesting aspect of which is a dog that seems to care absolutely not that it's got a ROBOTIC SNAKE attached to it.

[ CMU Biorobotics ]


Well, I guess if you somehow end up with two Hubos (!) you might as well set them up so that they can teleoperate each other with physical movements.

Although, I can think of all kinds of things that you could do with two humanoid robots that are much more exciting. No, not that, get your mind out of the gutter!

[ Drexel Autonomous Systems Lab ]


The Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL hosted a robotics festival last weekend, and 17,000 people showed up, which has got to be a significant percentage of the Swiss population. Here are some highlights:

[ LIS ]


As part of National Robotics Week, Xconomy hosted a star-studded forum on Robotics in the Workplace out here in California at SRI. They've put all the videos online now, and we'll finish up this week with our favorite presentations. 

Welcome, Opening Remarks, and Keynote Address from Rod Brooks. Wade Roush, Chief Correspondent, Xconomy; Curt Carlson, President and CEO, SRI International; Rodney Brooks, Founder and CTO, Rethink Robotics.


Robots and Jobs Debate. Rich Mahoney, Director of Robotics, SRI International; Aaron Edsinger, Co-founder and CTO, Redwood Robotics; Vivek Wadhwa, Vice President of Academics and Innovation, Singularity University; Wade Roush (moderator).


Keynote Address: Chris Anderson, CEO, 3D Robotics; former Editor-in-Chief, Wired


Remote Presence Robots in the Clinic. Yulun Wang, CEO, InTouch Health; Colin Angle, Co-founder and CEO, iRobot.


You can find all the rest of the videos on YouTube here.

[ Xconomy ]

The Conversation (0)

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?

Keep Reading ↓Show less