Video Friday: Agility Robotics Raises $20 Million to Accelerate Robot Production

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read
Digit humanoid robot
Photo: Agility Robotics

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 few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – [Online]
ROS World 2020 – November 12, 2020 – [Online]
CYBATHLON 2020 – November 13-14, 2020 – [Online]
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colo., USA

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

Digit is now in full commercial production and we’re excited to announce a $20M funding rounding round co-led by DCVC and Playground Global!

Digits for everyone!

Agility Robotics ]

A flexible rover that has both ability to travel long distances and rappel down hard-to-reach areas of scientific interest has undergone a field test in the Mojave Desert in California to showcase its versatility. Composed of two Axel robots, DuAxel is designed to explore crater walls, pits, scarps, vents and other extreme terrain on the moon, Mars and beyond.

This technology demonstration developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California showcases the robot’s ability to split in two and send one of its halves -- a two-wheeled Axle robot -- over an otherwise inaccessible slope, using a tether as support and to supply power.

The rappelling Axel can then autonomously seek out areas to study, safely overcome slopes and rocky obstacles, and then return to dock with its other half before driving to another destination. Although the rover doesn’t yet have a mission, key technologies are being developed that might, one day, help us explore the rocky planets and moons throughout the solar system.

[ JPL ]

A rectangular robot as tiny as a few human hairs can travel throughout a colon by doing back flips, Purdue University engineers have demonstrated in live animal models. Why the back flips? Because the goal is to use these robots to transport drugs in humans, whose colons and other organs have rough terrain. Side flips work, too. Why a back-flipping robot to transport drugs? Getting a drug directly to its target site could remove side effects, such as hair loss or stomach bleeding, that the drug may otherwise cause by interacting with other organs along the way.

[ Purdue ]

This video shows the latest results in the whole-body locomotion control of the humanoid robot iCub achieved by the Dynamic Interaction Control line at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova (Italy). In particular, the iCub now keeps the balance while walking and receiving pushes from an external user. The implemented control algorithms also ensure the robot to remain compliant during locomotion and human-robot interaction, a fundamental property to lower the possibility to harm humans that share the robot surrounding environment.

This is super impressive, considering that iCub was only able to crawl and was still tethered not too long ago. Also, it seems to be blinking properly now, so it doesn’t look like it’s always sleepy.

[ IIT ]

This video shows a set of new tests we performed on Bolt. We conducted tests on 5 different scenarios, 1) walking forward/backward 2) uneven surface 3) soft surface 4) push recovery 5) slippage recovery. Thanks to our feedback control based on Model Predictive Control, the robot can perform walking in the presence of all these uncertainties. We will open-source all the codes in a near future.

[ ODRI ]

The title of this video is “Can you throw your robot into a lake?” The title of this video should be, “Can you throw your robot into a lake and drive it out again?”

[ Norlab ]

AeroVironment Successfully Completes Sunglider Solar HAPS Stratospheric Test Flight, Surpassing 60,000 Feet Altitude and Demonstrating Broadband Mobile Connectivity.

[ AeroVironment ]

We present CoVR, a novel robotic interface providing strong kinesthetic feedback (100 N) in a room-scale VR arena. It consists of a physical column mounted on a 2D Cartesian ceiling robot (XY displacements) with the capacity of (1) resisting to body-scaled users actions such as pushing or leaning; (2) acting on the users by pulling or transporting them as well as (3) carrying multiple potentially heavy objects (up to 80kg) that users can freely manipulate or make interact with each other.

[ DeepAI ]

In a new video, personnel from Swiss energy supply company Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG (KWO) explain how they were able to keep employees out of harm’s way by using Flyability’s Elios 2 to collect visual data while building a new dam.

[ Flyability ]

Enjoy our Ascento robot fail compilation! With every failure we experience, we learn more and we can improve our robot for its next iteration, which will come soon... Stay tuned for more!

FYI posting a robot fails video will pretty much guarantee you a spot in Video Friday!

[ Ascento ]

Humans are remarkably good at using chopsticks. The Guinness World Record witnessed a person using chopsticks to pick up 65 M&Ms in just a minute. We aim to collect demonstrations from humans and to teach robot to use chopsticks.

[ UW Personal Robotics Lab ]

A surprising amount of personality from these Yaskawa assembly robots.

[ Yaskawa ]

This paper presents the system design, modeling, and control of the Aerial Robotic Chain Manipulator. This new robot design offers the potential to exert strong forces and moments to the environment, carry and lift significant payloads, and simultaneously navigate through narrow corridors. The presented experimental studies include a valve rotation task, a pick-and-release task, and the verification of load oscillation suppression to demonstrate the stability and performance of the system.

[ ARL ]

Whether animals or plants, whether in the water, on land or in the air, nature provides the model for many technical innovations and inventions. This is summed up in the term bionics, which is a combination of the words ‘biology‘ and ‘electronics’. At Festo, learning from nature has a long history, as our Bionic Learning Network is based on using nature as the source for future technologies like robots, assistance systems or drive solutions.

[ Festo ]

Dogs! Selfies! Thousands of LEGO bricks! This video has it all.

[ LEGO ]

An IROS workshop talk on “Cassie and Mini Cheetah Autonomy” by Maani Ghaffari and Jessy Grizzle from the University of Michigan.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

David Schaefer’s Cozmo robots are back with this mind-blowing dance-off!

What you just saw represents hundreds of hours of work, David tells us: “I wrote over 10,000 lines of code to create the dance performance as I had to translate the beats per minute of the song into motor rotations in order to get the right precision needed to make the moves look sharp. The most challenging move was the SpongeBob SquareDance as any misstep would send the Cozmos crashing into each other. LOL! Fortunately for me, Cozmo robots are pretty resilient.”

Life with Cozmo ]

Thanks David!

This week’s GRASP on Robotics seminar is by Sangbae Kim from MIT, on “Robots with Physical Intelligence.”

While industrial robots are effective in repetitive, precise kinematic tasks in factories, the design and control of these robots are not suited for physically interactive performance that humans do easily. These tasks require ‘physical intelligence’ through complex dynamic interactions with environments whereas conventional robots are designed primarily for position control. In order to develop a robot with ‘physical intelligence’, we first need a new type of machines that allow dynamic interactions. This talk will discuss how the new design paradigm allows dynamic interactive tasks. As an embodiment of such a robot design paradigm, the latest version of the MIT Cheetah robots and force-feedback teleoperation arms will be presented.


This week’s CMU Ri Seminar is by Kevin Lynch from Northwestern, on “Robotics and Biosystems.”

Research at the Center for Robotics and Biosystems at Northwestern University encompasses bio-inspiration, neuromechanics, human-machine systems, and swarm robotics, among other topics. In this talk I will give an overview of some of our recent work on in-hand manipulation, robot locomotion on yielding ground, and human-robot systems.

[ CMU RI ]

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