Video Friday: 20-Meter Long Robot Arm, Amazon Drone Delivery, and Mars Rovers in Utah

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

DFKI Mars rover test in Utah
Image: DFKI via YouTube

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

WAFR 2016 – December 18-20, 2016 – San Francisco, Calif., USA

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

All of the mannequins at Rethink Robotics wish you a very happy holiday season:

At least they have robots to get some actual work done.

[ Rethink Robotics ]

If anyone can use some automation to boost production, it’s Santa:

That must have taken a ridiculous amount of helium.

[ Robotiq ]

Drinks served by an automated ladle, that’s my kind of Christmas:

And robots don’t judge you when you’ve obviously had too many.

[ ArtiMinds ]

You’ll want to turn on your subtitles for this holiday video:

[ DTI ] via [ Robohub ]

Happy Holidays from Yaskawa:


[ Yaskawa ]

Why did we not bother to write an article about Amazon’s latest Prime Air announcement? Because they’re not doing anything new or exciting.

Yeah, the drone is new, and it’s cool that they got whatever the British equivalent of the FAA is to let them do this, but it’s still just not that impressive: As far as I can tell, it’s just flying from one GPS point to another, with no sense and avoid or other intelligence on board. There’s probably a downward-facing camera to locate the fiducial markers for landing, but that’s not very challenging. I was excited for a minute to see what could have been some sensors on the front of the drone, but nope, they’re just heat sinks. Sigh.

[ Amazon Prime Air ]

I don’t know much about this super long inflatable robot arm from the Suzumori Endo Lab at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, but I want to hug it:

The Giacometti Arm with Balloon Body has 20 joints driven by pneumatic, thin artificial muscles. Arm structures consist of helium-filled balloons and compensate for their self-weight.The robot is very light (1.2 kg) and essentially safe even if it falls down or hits something. It is expected to be used for search and inspection. Project members: Masashi Takeichi, Hiroyuki Nabae, Gen Endo, Koichi Suzumori.

[ Suzumori Endo Lab ]

Look at all these TurtleBot 3s!!!

Adorable and I want them. Also adorable:


Pepper the robot: slowly and steadily taking all the fun out of playing games.

[ Github ] via [ Softbank Robotics Europe ]

Where do you test your Mars robots on Earth? In Utah.

A barren, rocky desert landscape and not a single soul around – to come as close as possible to the inhospitable conditions on the Red Planet, scientists of the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) tested the cooperation of various robot systems in the desert of the American state of Utah from 24 October to 18 November 2016.

So where do I get one of them robotic suits?

[ DFKI ]

This is a “teaser” for a new version of EMYS that kiiinda just shows you exactly what the new version of EMYS is going to look like, from what I can see:

[ Flash Robotics ]

Why did Manchester City soccer players have a dance-off with Ubtech’s Alpha 1 robot? Exactly.

Shocking how soccer players have so little upper body strength. Also, I would have liked to see a “who can kick who the farthest” competition.


From the University of Zurich:

Quadrotors are well suited for executing fast maneuvers with high accelerations but they are still unable to follow a fast trajectory with centimeter accuracy without iteratively learning it beforehand. In this paper, we present a novel body-rate controller and an iterative thrust-mixing scheme, which improve the trajectory-tracking performance without requiring learning and reduce the yaw control error of a quadrotor, respectively. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, we present the first algorithm to cope with motor saturations smartly by prioritizing control inputs which are relevant for stabilization and trajectory tracking.

“Thrust Mixing, Saturation, and Body-Rate Control for Accurate Aggressive Quadrotor Flight,” by M. Faessler, D. Falanga, and D. Scaramuzza was published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 15 December 2016.

[ Paper ] via [ UZH ]

Pepper can pour water as a robot slave. Watch until the end of the video to see what you probably thought was going to happen actually happen.

[ Project Romeo ]

In the most intensive robotics operation to date, this animation shows how Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency’s robotic handyman, will recover and replace the batteries essential for storing electrical energy generated by the International Space Station’s solar arrays.

[ Dextre ]

I still very much like how simple and reliable CyPhy’s tethered drones are:

That horse in the background was all “lolwut.”

[ CyPhy ]

Hey Valkyrie, can I give you a hug?

[ Gazebo ]

Team Cobot from Robotiq spent 48 hours teaching a robot to pour shots. And something about cards.

I like those warning signs, but I think I need one for myself that says “this human has no brain, use a machine.”

[ Robotiq ]

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