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Video Friday: Atlas Balancing, Giant Drone With Arms, and Modified Racing Roomba

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read
Giant drone with two arms developed by Prodrones.
Image: Prodrones via YouTube

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

European Rover Challenge – September 10-13, 2016 – Podkarpackie, Poland
Gigaom Change – September 21-23, 2016 – Austin, Texas, USA
RoboBusiness – September 28-29, 2016 – San Jose, Calif., USA
HFR 2016 – September 29-30, 2016 – Genoa, Italy
ISER 2016 – October 3-6, 2016 – Tokyo, Japan
Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, Korea
ICSR 2016 – November 1-3, 2016 – Kansas City, Kan., USA
Social Robots in Therapy and Education – November 2-4, 2016 – Barcelona, Spain
Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems 2016 – November 7-9, 2016 – London, England

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

I don’t know why this video of the Yellow Drum Machine popped up in my YouTube feed again, but hey, it’s one of my favorite robots of all time:

[ LMR ]

From IHMC:

The humanoid robot Atlas balancing on a line contact (plywood edge approx. 2cm thick). This video was recorded during a lucky run, usually the robot is not able to maintain balance for this long. The shaking is caused by poor state estimation (we only use onboard sensors).

I’d love to see IHMC re-run the DRC Finals tasks at some point, just to illustrate how much improvement has been made in Atlas’ autonomy and not-falling-over-ness.

IHMC Robotics ]

Prodrone makes some of the more unusual drones we’ve seen but this one takes the cake, because it can literally take a cake with its two arms:

It weighs 20 kilograms, and its arms can handle 10-kg payloads, with a 30-minute flight time.

[ Prodrone ] via [ Tokyotronic ]

Neato has two new robot vacuums with no new technology, but significantly lower prices: the D3 and D5.

Both of these robots have Wi-Fi connectivity so you can control them with an app; the D3 is $400, while the D5 (which has a bigger battery and a side brush) is $600.

Neato Robotics ]

Lennert writes:

Our Team BruBotics is working hard to get ready for the Cybathlon. This video shows some of our early trials with the Cyberlegs prosthesis featuring both our athlete and one of our researchers who gladly “sacrificed” one of his legs.

BruBotics ]

Thanks Lennert!

Modified racing Roomba. We need not say more.

My modified 10 year old Roomba Discovery 4210 features 600 RPM planetary gear motors, a dual 12A motor driver and is powered by a standard 14V Roomba battery. Made at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, UC Berkeley.

[ Roland Saekow ]

Bujold, the last surviving robot used at the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster, has been donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She will be displayed at the special one-day 15th anniversary exhibition and ceremony.


At Savioke, we are dedicated to making our robots both easy-to-use and sophisticated in their capabilities. Voice control shows potential to be a valuable step in this direction — allowing users to request a delivery without stopping their current task. Using Amazon’s Alexa Web Service, along with Echo and AWS Lambda, proved to be a simple and effective way to implement a prototype. Users of “Relay by Voice” can place a delivery from one room to another or ask Relay for the status of an ongoing delivery. Both conversational and command-like approaches are enabled.

[ Savioke ]

The only way to drink coffee is if it’s been untouched by human hands.

Shadow Robot Company ]

Dreamer’s head is getting a redesign, and hopefully a new paint job:

With no Meka Robotics around anymore, it’s great that some effort is being put into keeping Dreamer heads up and running.

[ UT Austin ]

I still really like Wowwee’s beacon system for its LUMi “gaming drone”:

[ LUMi ]

This robot is a pro at nut handling:

It’s not fully autonomous yet, but it’s getting there.

[ HVP ]

Thanks David!

Dorabot is a Chinese robotics company that builds mobile manipulators for logistics and warehouses. They’ve got a demo that involves robots autonomously picking stuff off of shelves, which is always fun to see:

There’s lots of detail in this paper that you can read for free on arXiv. 

[ Dorabot ]

Launching on September 7th, 2016, Vu8 is the first Leddar sensor module built on the LeddarVu platform. It leverages powerful class-1 laser illumination and 8 independent active detection elements into a single sensor, resulting in rapid, continuous and accurate detection and ranging of objects — including lateral discrimination — in the entire wide beam, without any moving parts. Detecting targets up to 215 m and weighting only 75 grams, the Vu8 uses a fixed laser light source, which significantly increases the sensor’s robustness and cost-efficiency compared to any scanning LiDAR solution.

I wish we could say that this solid-state lidar is also low cost, but we don’t have any info on the price as of yet.

LeddarTech ]

Here are all of the different things that can do. Bo.

Uh, is Scottish...? If so, AWESOME.

[ Thecorpora ]

If there was a contest for the viscerally scariest drone ever made, Goliath Mk. II would win, thanks to its lawnmower engine (!), four belt-driven props, and the overwhelming impression that it gives of continually barely not exploding:

Congrats on the first hover without self-obliteration!

Peter McCloud ]

Interested in Anki’s Cozmo? You should be, it’s cool. And the latest CMU Robotics Institue Seminar features Boris Sofman and Hanns Tappeiner talking about how they got there:

While the applications for robotics are plentiful in theory, matching technical capabilities to real world customer needs at high reliability and practical price points is incredibly difficult, leaving behind large numbers of ambitious, but ultimately failed, attempts to apply robotics to consumer applications. In this talk we will share a bit of our journey with Anki, a company we started working on in 2008 with the goal of identifying and entering markets where robotics and AI can have a real, measurable impact in a short time frame, and then using the technologies and learnings developed for one product as building blocks for the next. We enjoyed an eventful path from our early days as three Robotics Institute PhD students working out of a Pittsburgh living room to a 150 person company (with over a dozen CMU RI grads!) with offices in San Francisco, London, Munich and Shenzhen. We will share a few of the stories and learnings along the journey through multiple product releases, four rounds of venture funding, challenges at the overlap of many disciplines, large scale mass production, and seemingly endless strings of highs and lows. Finally, we are excited to share our next product, Cozmo, a robot character that uses a deep combination of robotics, AI, game design, and animated film-style animation with the aim of bringing a physical character to life with a level of personality, emotion and interaction that has never been possible outside of a screen. This interdisciplinary approach has led us to build a small animation studio within a robotics company with a novel approach to animating physical characters, showing intense levels of attachment and emotional response in all of our early testing. Along with a look at the many years of research and development leading to this product, we will discuss why the SDK that will be released with the launch in October could unlock one of the most capable and affordable robotic platforms for research and education.

[ Anki ] via [ CMU RI ]

The National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) at Carnegie Mellon University is celebrating its 20th anniversary. I didn’t know that they had robots 20 years ago, go figure. Some very smart and important people gave talks, including Red Whittaker and Takeo Kanade:

[ NREC ]

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