Video Friday: Happy Holidays

Your yearly selection of awesome holiday robot videos

2 min read
Robot Holidays

Happy Holidays from Evan, Erico, and the rest of the team at IEEE Spectrum. We’re out of calendar events for the year, and next week is our once a year week off, so please enjoy the last Video Friday of 2016, full of all kinds of festive robot celebrations. 

It's nice to see that an entire team of robots is only slightly better at making Christmas cookies than I am:

Somebody really, really needs to let NAO out of the oven.

[ FZI ]

Thanks Arne!

The Autonomous Systems Lab and the Robotic Systems Lab from ETH Zurich outdo themselves, as always:

All legged robots should be required to wear cute socks at all times.

[ ETH Zurich ]

Happy holidays from IIT, Mannequin Challenge-style. See if you can count all the iCubs, and make sure to watch until then end:

[ IIT ]

Thanks Claudio!

According to Plymouth University, Plymouth University's Mannequin Challenge video is the best Mannequin Challenge video of all time:

You know, I was skeptical at first, but now I kinda believe it.

[ Plymouth University ]

Thanks Ricardo!

At this point, I don't think that Santa (or the post office) has to worry about Snake Monsters stealing their jobs:

[ CMU Biorobotics ]

If RE2's HDMS robot seems suspiciously capable at decorating things, it's because there's a human on the other end of it:

[ RE2 ]

Here's FANUC's holiday vid:

Hmm. I think if you're a giant robotics company with a marketing budget and stuff, you should be required to put REAL ROBOTS in your holiday videos.


This was inevitable, wasn't it?

[ Flite Test ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Props to the Edinburgh Robot Perception Group for a Christmas video that's almost entirely autonomous:

[ Edinburgh ]

No, forcing Makeblock's little robot kits into holiday costumes doesn't turn out even a little bit creepy, see?

[ Makeblock ]

Angry Santa robot is angry, because wouldn't you be this time of year?

[ Lichron ] via [ Robohub ]

It doesn't take a kilo of kilobots to make Christmas-y shapes:

The one at 0:15 is #meirl

[ Sheffield Robotics ] via [ Robohub ]

I'm not sure what takes more work: writing holiday cards yourself, or building Lego robots to do it for you.

[ Lego Mindstorms ]

This is, I kid you not, an entire hour of BB-8 doing BB-8 things in front of a cozy fireplace. 

[ Sphero ]

Happy holidays!

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
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

“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.

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

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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