Video Friday: Muscle for Tough Robots, Cobots on Wheels, and WALK-MAN Goes for a Walk

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

WALK-MAN humanoid robot steps over an obstacle during a demonstration.
WALK-MAN humanoid robot steps over an obstacle during a demonstration.
Image: WALK-MAN Project via YouTube

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robot 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!):

RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online

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

Opportunity is 13 years old! That’s 13 years of roving Mars without a single tune-up. Not bad, right?

Happy birthday Oppy!!


The hydraulic high-power muscle has been developed by Suzumori Endo Robotics Laboratory at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Bridgestone Corporation as part of the Impulsing PAradigm Change through disruptive Technologies program (ImPACT) Tough Robotics Challenge which is an initiative of the Cabinet Office Council for Science, Technology and Innovation. The muscle is 15 mm in diameter and generates 700 kgf contraction force.

Suzimori Endo Lab ]

Finally, a way for Baxters and Sawyers to flee from those awful boring jobs people keep giving them:

Dataspeed ]

At the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, we are developing a research platform for an assistive robotic system. The platform called EDAN (EMG-controlled Daily Assistant) consists of a robotic manipulator, which is mounted on a power wheelchair. The focus of this research is twofold. On the one hand, we investigate the use of Electromyography (EMG) as a non-invasive interface to provide people with control over assistive systems. On the other hand, we develop methods to simplify the usage of such systems with the support of artificial intelligence.


WALK-MAN demonstrates its skill at not falling over while navigating around obstacles, and also at doing useful stuff. We’re impressed.

This research is a collaboration between IIT, EPFL, UNIPI, KIT, and UCL.


Thanks Dimitris!

EPFL is responsible for some of those incredible robotic spy animals that the BBC has been using to try to out-Attenborough itself:

Here, have some more, because cuuuute!

[ EPFL ] and [ BBC ]

Not many bipedal robots could walk dynamically on a steep, slippery hill. MARLO can do it even with a broken ankle (!):

Looks like this research will be presented at ICRA, and a preview of the paper is at the link below.

[ Paper ] via [ MARLO ]

The Digger Foundation’s urban mine clearing project involves a Human-Dog-Robot Interaction (HDRI) system, reminding us that dogs are way better at some things than humans or robots will ever be.

This project is one of the finalists for the UAE Robotics for Good prize, and honeslty, I’m not sure how much more good you can get then helping people not get blown up.

[ Digger Foundation ] via [ Robotics for Good ]

Thanks Adrien!

Interns at Dorabot used a pair of UR5 arms and some 3D printed grippers to make dumpling for Chinese New Year:

[ Dorabot ]

Thanks Betty!

It’s Chinese New Year in Singapore this weekend (and everywhere else), and Relay is getting into the spirit of things:

Here’s a video of how Relay works from perspective of the hotel staff, including the SECRET CODE that lets you control Relay directly:

[ Savioke ]

Somebody needs to try this with one of those beefed-up delivery drones. Better bring some spare heads for that poor dummy.

Researchers at Virginia Tech — home to both a Federal Aviation Administration-designated test site for unmanned aircraft systems and a world-renowned injury biomechanics group — are developing methods to evaluate the risk posed by small unmanned aircraft to anyone on the ground. This research is key to enabling flights over people. Federal Aviation Administration regulations for unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, currently prohibit these flights unless a special waiver is granted. The regulations are designed to prevent injuries if an aircraft descends unexpectedly or the pilot loses control. But they present challenges for efficiently conducting operations that otherwise seem ideally suited for unmanned aircraft, such as package delivery and aerial journalism. And most applications face steep hurdles in densely populated areas, where it would be virtually impossible to ensure that there was no one beneath an aircraft’s flight path.

[ Virginia Tech ]

If you need a company to make an inspiring commercial for you, you can hire Robotiq. They also sell robot hands.

[ Robotiq ]

iRobot has done some incredible things for the robotics community, including founding National Robotics Week and helping to enable affordable research with the Create platform.

There are a limited number of Create 2 units available right now from iRobot with PrimeSense 3D sensors for $300.

iRobot Create 2 ]

This week’s CMU RI Seminar: Carrick Detweiler on “Micro-UAS for Prescribed Fire Ignition.”

Unmanned Aerial System (UASs) are increasingly being used for everything from crop surveying to pipeline monitoring. They are significantly cheaper than the traditional manned airplane or helicopter approaches to obtaining aerial imagery and sensor data. The next generation of UASs, however, will do more than simply observe. In this talk, I will discuss recent advances we have made in the Nimbus Lab in developing the first UAS that can ignite prescribed fires. Prescribed fire is a critical tool used to improve habitats, combat invasive species, and reduce fuels to prevent wildfires. In the United States alone federal and state governments use prescribed burns on over 3 million acres each year, with private land owners prescribing even more. Yet this activity can be extremely dangerous, especially when performing interior ignitions in difficult terrain. In this talk, I will discuss the history of this project and the challenges associated with flying near and igniting fires. In addition, I will detail the mechanical and software design challenges we have had to overcome in this project. I will also present the results of the first two prescribed burns that were successfully ignited by a UAS. Finally, I will discuss automated software analysis techniques we are developing to detect and correct system errors to reduce risk and increase safety when using UASs to ignite prescribed burns.

[ CMU RI ]

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