Alter 3 robot
Image: Scary Beauty

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!):

Robotic Arena – January 25, 2020 – Wrocław, Poland
DARPA SubT Urban Circuit – February 18-27, 2020 – Olympia, Wash., USA
HRI 2020 – March 23-26, 2020 – Cambridge, U.K.
ICARSC 2020 – April 15-17, 2020 – Ponta Delgada, Azores
ICRA 2020 – May 31-4, 2020 – Paris, France

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

The Real-World Deployment of Legged Robots Workshop is back at ICRA 2020!

We’ll be there!

Workshop ]

Thanks Marko!

This video shows some cool musical experiments with Pepper. They should definitely release this karaoke feature to Peppers everywhere—with “Rage Against the Machine” songs included, of course. NSFW warning: There is some swearing by both robot and humans, so headphones recommended if you’re at work.

It all started when on a whim David and another team member fed a karaoke file into Pepper’s text to speech, with a quick Python script, and playing some music in parallel from their PC. The effect was a bit strange, but there was something so fun (and funny) to it. I think they were going for a virtual performance from Pepper or something, but someone noted that it sounds like he’s struggling like someone doing karaoke. And from there it grew into doing duets with Pepper.

This thing might seem ridiculous, and it is. But believe me, it’s genuinely fun. It was going all night in a meeting room at the office winter party.

[ Taylor Veltrop ]

And now, this.

In “Scary Beauty,” a performance conceived and directed by Tokyo-based musician Keiichiro Shibuya, a humanoid robot called Alter 3 not only conducts a human orchestra but also sings along with it. 

Unlike the previous two "Alters", the Alter 3 has improved sensory and expression capabilities closer to humans, such as a camera with both eyes and the ability to utter from the mouth, as well as expressiveness around the mouth for singing. In addition, the output was enhanced compared to the alternator 2, which made it possible to improve the immediacy of the body expression and achieve dynamic movement. In addition, portability, which allows anyone to disassemble and assemble and transport by air, is one of the evolutions of the Altera 3.

Scary Beauty ] via [ RobotStart ]

Carnegie Mellon University’s Henny Admoni studies human behavior in order to program robots to better anticipate people’s needs. Admoni’s research focuses on using assistive robots to address different impairments and aid people in living more fulfilling lives.

[ HARP Lab ]

Olympia was produced as part of a two-year project exploring the growth of social and humanoid robotics in the UK and beyond. Olympia was shot on location at Bristol Robotics Labs, one of the largest of its kind in Britain.

Humanoid robotics - one the most complex and often provocative areas of artificial intelligence - form the central subject of this short film. At what point are we willing to believe that we might form a real bond with a machine?

[ Olympia ] via [ Bristol Robotics Lab ]

In this work, we explore user preferences for different modes of autonomy for robot-assisted feeding given perceived error risks and also analyze the effect of input modalities on technology acceptance.

[ Personal Robotics Lab ]

This video brings to you a work conducted on a multi-agent system of aerial robots to form mid-air structures by docking using position-based visual servoing of the aerial robot. For the demonstration, the commercially available drone DJI Tello has been modified to fit to use and has been commanded using the DJI Tello Python SDK.

[ YouTube ]

The video present DLR CLASH (Compliant Low-cost Antagonistic Servo Hand) developed within the EU-Project Soma (grant number H2020-ICT-645599) and shows the hand resilience tests and the capability of the hand to grasp objects under different motor and sensor failures.

[ DLR ]

Squishy Robotics is celebrating our birthday! Here is a short montage of the places we’ve been and the things we’ve done over the last three years.

[ Squishy Robotics ]

The 2020 DJI RoboMaster Challenge takes place in Shenzhen in early August 2020.

[ RoboMaster ]

With support from the National Science Foundation, electrical engineer Yan Wan and a team at the University of Texas at Arlington are developing a new generation of "networked" unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to bring long distance, broadband communications capability to first responders in the field.

[ NSF ]

Drones and UAVs are vulnerable to hackers that might try to take control of the craft or access data stored on-board. Researchers at the University of Michigan are part of a team building a suite of software to keep drones secure.

The suite is called Trusted and Resilient Mission Operations (TRMO). The U-M team, led by Wes Weimer, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is focused on integrating the different applications into a holistic system that can prevent and combat attacks in real time.

[ UMich ]

A mobile robot that revs up industrial production: SOTO enables efficient automated line feeding, for example in the automotive industry. The supply chain robot SOTO brings materials to the assembly line, just-in-time and completely autonomous.

[ Magazino ]

MIT’s Lex Fridman get us caught up with the state-of-the-art in deep learning.

[ MIT ]

Just in case you couldn’t make it out to Australia in 2018, here are a couple of the keynotes from ICRA in Brisbane.

[ ICRA 2018 ]

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