Video Friday: Pretending to Learn Things at Stanford, Emys Likes Colors, and a Girlfriend for Robonaut

In space, nobody can hear your robot scream that he needs some female companionship already

2 min read
Video Friday: Pretending to Learn Things at Stanford, Emys Likes Colors, and a Girlfriend for Robonaut

Robonaut would be a pretty desirable dude to date. Good looks, steady job, big muscles, what more could a lady robot want? To make this love story happen, we just need to send a lady robot into space, and AILA could be the one. Look for the feature film (Cooperative Microgravitic Manipulation: a Romance) to premiere on Video Friday just as soon as we can make it happen, but for this week, you'll just have to suffer through what amounts to a teaser trailer instead. But don't worry, it's not all disappointment... That's the beauty of Video Friday: it's a simultaneous microcosm of everything that is right and wrong with the universe. And while you're thinking that one through, enjoy this week's vids.

Back when I was in school, we had to do work. And learn stuff. At Stanford, they get to just build robots for fun:

[ Stanford ]



Remember Emys, that weirdly expressive robot from Poland? It's learning colors, and whether or not it's being intentionally funny (or just Polish), this video is intermittently hilarious. Skip ahead a bit and you'll see.


[ Emys ]



Instead of teaching their robotic limb to throw and punch and kick using powerful motors, researchers at the University of Edinburgh are programming elastic actuators to store up and then explosively release energy for throwing and punching and kicking. Since, you know, that's exactly what we want to be teaching robots. 

Via [ Autonomous Robots ]



Ford uses a robot named RUTH (Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics) to quantify things like softness and feel to help develop standards for ambiguous terms like "quality:"

So, er, how do you know it's a she?

Via [ Engadget ]



Robonaut is probably getting lonely up there on the ISS with only SPHERES for company, so he ought to be happy that DFKI's AILA is training for space:

[ DFKI ]

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.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less