We love robot competitions, and the only bad thing about them is that we don’t have the time (and, er, travel budget) to cover them all. The biggest robotics event happening this week was RoboCup, in Hefei, China, and we have some videos of that for you. But first, let’s watch a 150-kilogram robot getting kicked, shall we?

Warner, the WPI-CMU Atlas, was the only robot that didn’t fall or need a reset at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. In fact, the team was “thrilled not to be included” in this compilation. The video below shows their “robust lateral balance” practice, including a human “interacting” with an operating Atlas, which is something we had never seen before. 

The robot recovers very nicely. Atlas kicked, Atlas shrugged.

Thanks Chris and Siyuan!

RoboCup 2015! There are tons and tons of videos on YouTube. We’d post them all, but if we did, we’d probably break the Internet. Or at the very least, we’d break this page.

A lot of the best videos come from Tech United Eindhoven, competing in the mid-size league (MSL). The audio commentary is Very Dutch, but you can turn on some auto-translated YouTube captions, which help not much at all.

[ TU Eindhoven ]

My favorite league is the small size league (SSL). I haven’t seen any competition vids posted yet, but here’s a qualification vid from Team ER-Force:

[ ER-Force ]

Are you thirsty? I’m thirsty too. Let’s have some tea!

You’re probably not crazy enough to want one of these for your own personal use. Or maybe you are. I know some people, is all I’m saying. But at the moment, if you’re lucky enough to live around Palo Alto, Calif., the place to try TeaBot for yourself is at Coupa Cafe.

[ TeaBot ]

Still thirsty? How about this:

Robot HoLLiE uses its two anthropomorphic servo-electric five-finger hands (SCHUNK SVH) to grasp cocktail glasses and fill them with various ingredients. The left and right robot arms moved independently.

During the Stallwächter-Party in Berlin on 9 July 2015, HoLLiE mixed two different cocktails: “Bramble Fizz”, a gin based fruit cocktail, and “digit.HoLLiE”, a whisky long drink with lemonade. The recipes were created by Gregor Scholl, Phum Sila-Trakoon and the team from the bar “Le Croco Bleu” in Berlin. HoLLiE assisted the human barkeeper colleagues for more than 7.5 hours and mixed more than 280 cocktails. Thanks to the use of fast and reliable industrial light-weight arms and an improved motion control system, some cocktails were ready after 61 seconds. 

The guests ordered their drinks via tablet-computer. Then, the robot mixed the cocktails and informed the guests when the ordered cocktails were ready. Besides, HoLLiE asked its barkeeper colleagues for help when there were no more empty glasses or ingredients. 

Besides the great taste of the cocktails, the human-like 5-Finger-Hands definitely were a highlight of the demonstration. HoLLiE demonstrated that a robot can successfully perform dexterous manipulation tasks in a complex and difficult environment that is originally not suited for robots. Researchers at the FZI had developed the drivers for the SVH robot hand, which reliably grasped even wet glasses in spite of smaller drops of liquid on its fingers. 

[ FZI HoLLiE ]

PBS likes robots enough to bring you video of them in 4K! I don’t have a fancy enough monitor to really enjoy this footage, but I’m absolutely sure that it’s spectacular:

[ KQED ]

At a slightly less staggeringly obnoxious resolution is this other PBS video on robots that fly like insects:

[ PBS ]

Remember the robotic construction stuff that ETH Zurich has been working on? A company that was spun off a while back based on this technology has been working on some impressive construction projects:

[ ROB Technologies ] via [ Gizmodo ]

HitchBot is traveling across the United States:

Current location: Boston.

[ HitchBot ]

This is cute, if entirely unnecessary:

[ YouTube ]

NASA’s Tensegrity robot can roll downhill, which is not super amazing:

What is more amazing is that it can also roll uphill:

Or even when it’s not on a hill:

[ SuperBall Bot ]

It’s always nice to see Baxter out in the world, doing all the boring work so that humans don’t have to:

Aaaaaand apparently Rod Brooks wants to build GIANT BRAINS. EVERYBODY PANIC!

[ Rethink Robotics ]

From MIT’s Aerospace Controls Lab:

This is a video introduction to controlling self-driving cars, specifically using PID-control. Special emphasis is placed on how the proportional, integral, and derivative gains affect the performance of the vehicle.

[ MIT ]

Robots with tethers: the new hotness.

[ ASRL ]

And we’re done, time for some pizza:

In this video lecture, Bruno Siciliano from PRISMA Lab at the University of Naples, Italy, takes us through a new project in robotic dynamic manipulation, called RoDyMan. Centered on the task of making a pizza, the project aims to solve key problems related to robot gripping: localisation of the object while it is moving, motion and manipulation of the object, and control of the overall robotic system.

Via [ RoboHub ]

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.

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