Video Friday: Pneumatic Babies, More ZenRobotics Epicness, and a Spanking Orchestra

The pneumatic babies are the spanking orchestra are, unfortunately, not in the same video, but they're both worth watching anyway

2 min read
Video Friday: Pneumatic Babies, More ZenRobotics Epicness, and a Spanking Orchestra

Yep, we sure do love robot babies. Especially ones where we have videos of them floundering around on the floor. There are other things we love too, like Curiosity and Darwin and overblown fake movie trailers and robot hands spanking a car to make music, and all of those things are coming up on this week's Video Friday.

The Curiosity rover has just started driving around on Mars, and the team at JPL were understandably excited when they got the first pics back confirming the successful maneuver:

W00T! Congrats!

[ MSL ]



Osaka University's Pneuborn project isn't new or anything, but we hadn't seen video of the pneumatically powered robot babies in action before. We've got one now:

This is Pneuborn-7II, a musculoskeletal infant robot that's being used to explore the association between cognitive development and movement in infants. It has 19 pneumatic muscles plus a jointed, actuated spine, and is powered by nightmares. Or air pressure. One of those.

[ Hosoda Lab ]



We've been fans of ZenRobotics ever since they released that epic trailer for... Uh... Whatever it is they do. But WHO CARES what they do, there's ANOTHER TRAILER:

Oh that's right, they do robotic recycling. Nifty. NOW BRING ME MOAR TRAILERS!

[ ZenRobotics ]



Paul Frederickson has wrapped up his Darwin DDR project, and posted a video summary.

Yep, officially better at DDR than this reporter.

[ Purdue ]



Those crazy kids over at Trossen Robotics have started to film some webisodes (that's still a word, right?) of what life is like deep inside a robotics shop. It apparently involves ignoring lots of phone calls on Sunday nights and lighting things on fire.

Episode 2 is here.

[ Trossen Robotics ]



And finally, it's what you've been waiting for. Or something. It's a bunch of robot hands making music by spanking a car, which is apparently what's known as a "Spanking Orchestra." In Japan, anyway.

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