Video Friday: Aquanaut Robot Takes to the Ocean

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Aquanaut robot from HMI
Houston Mechatronics built a robot sub that transforms into a skilled humanoid.
Photo: Ken Kiefer

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 25-25, 2020 – [Online]
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colo., USA
Bay Area Robotics Symposium – November 20, 2020 – [Online]
ACRA 2020 – December 8-10, 2020 – [Online]

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

To prepare the Perseverance rover for its date with Mars, NASA’s Mars 2020 mission team conducted a wide array of tests to help ensure a successful entry, descent and landing at the Red Planet. From parachute verification in the world’s largest wind tunnel, to hazard avoidance practice in Death Valley, California, to wheel drop testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and much more, every system was put through its paces to get ready for the big day. The Perseverance rover is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021.

[ JPL ]

Awesome to see Aquanaut—the “underwater transformer” we wrote about last year—take to the ocean!

Also their new website has SHARKS on it.

[ HMI ]

Nature has inspired engineers at UNSW Sydney to develop a soft fabric robotic gripper which behaves like an elephant's trunk to grasp, pick up and release objects without breaking them.


Collaborative robots offer increased interaction capabilities at relatively low cost but, in contrast to their industrial counterparts, they inevitably lack precision. We address this problem by relying on a dual-arm system with laser-based sensing to measure relative poses between objects of interest and compensate for pose errors coming from robot proprioception.

[ Paper ]

Developed by NAVER LABS, with Korea University of Technology & Education (Koreatech), the robot arm now features an added waist, extending the available workspace, as well as a sensor head that can perceive objects. It has also been equipped with a robot hand “BLT Gripper” that can change to various grasping methods.

[ NAVER Labs ]

In case you were still wondering why SoftBank acquired Aldebaran and Boston Dynamics:

[ RobotStart ]

DJI's new Mini 2 drone is here with a commercial so hip it makes my teeth scream.

[ DJI ]

Using simple materials, such as plastic struts and cardboard rolls, the first prototype of the RBO Hand 3 is already capable of grasping a large range of different objects thanks to its opposable thumb.

The RBO Hand 3 performs an edge grasp before handing-over the object to a person. The hand actively exploits constraints in the environment (the tabletop) for grasping the object. Thanks to its compliance, this interaction is safe and robust.

[ TU Berlin ]

Flyability's Elios 2 helped researchers inspect Reactor Five at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in order to determine whether any uranium was present. Prior to this mission, Reactor Five had not been investigated since the disaster in April of 1986.

[ Flyability ]

Thanks Zacc!

SOTO 2 is here! Together with our development partners from the industry, we have greatly enhanced the SOTO prototype over the last two years. With the new version of the robot, Industry 4.0 will become a great deal more real: SOTO brings materials to the assembly line, just-in-time and completely autonomously.

[ Magazino ]

A drone that can fly sustainably for long distances over land and water, and can land almost anywhere, will be able to serve a wide range of applications. There are already drones that fly using ‘green’ hydrogen, but they either fly very slowly or cannot land vertically. That’s why researchers at TU Delft, together with the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Netherlands Coastguard, developed a hydrogen-powered drone that is capable of vertical take-off and landing whilst also being able to fly horizontally efficiently for several hours, much like regular aircraft. The drone uses a combination of hydrogen and batteries as its power source.

[ MAVLab ]

The National Nuclear User Facility for Hot Robotics (NNUF-HR) is an EPSRC funded facility to support UK academia and industry to deliver ground-breaking, impactful research in robotics and artificial intelligence for application in extreme and challenging nuclear environments.

[ NNUF ]

At the Karolinska University Laboratory in Sweden, an innovation project based around an ABB collaborative robot has increased efficiency and created a better working environment for lab staff.

[ ABB ]

What I find interesting about DJI's enormous new agricultural drone is that it's got a spinning obstacle detecting sensor that's a radar, not a lidar.

Also worth noting is that it seems to detect the telephone pole, but not the support wire that you can see in the video feed, although the visualization does make it seem like it can spot the power lines above.

[ DJI ]

Josh Pieper has spend the last year building his own quadruped, and you can see what he's been up to in just 12 minutes.

[ mjbots ]

Thanks Josh!

Dr. Ryan Eustice, TRI Senior Vice President of Automated Driving, delivers a keynote speech -- "The Road to Vehicle Automation, a Toyota Guardian Approach" -- to SPIE's Future Sensing Technologies 2020. During the presentation, Eustice provides his perspective on the current state of automated driving, summarizes TRI's Guardian approach -- which amplifies human drivers, rather than replacing them -- and summarizes TRI's recent developments in core AD capabilities.

[ TRI ]

Two excellent talks this week from UPenn GRASP Lab, from Ruzena Bajcsy and Vijay Kumar.

A panel discussion on the future of robotics and societal challenges with Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy as a Roboticist and Founder of the GRASP Lab.

In this talk I will describe the role of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in supporting science and technology research and education, and the lessons I learned while serving in the office. I will also identify a few opportunities at the intersection of technology and policy and broad societal challenges.

[ UPenn ]

The IROS 2020 “Perception, Learning, and Control for Autonomous Agile Vehicles” workshop is all online—here's the intro, but you can click through for a playlist that includes videos of the entire program, and slides are available as well.

[ NYU ]

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