Video Friday: Back Rubs, Scrum Simulators, and Robot Theater

If there was ever a week that we needed a robot back rub, it would be this one

3 min read

Video Friday: Back Rubs, Scrum Simulators, and Robot Theater

I don't know about you, but we've had quite a week this week. So seriously, we're more than ready for a nice relaxing weekend, and the only thing standing between us and that is a few more hours of work plus a whole bunch of robot videos.

This is why we all need a robot in our homes:

PR2 demonstrating a ROSCo fun behavior for giving a back rub. In this demo, users first activate the behavior through ROSCo's web interface then lean into the PR2's grippers for a "back rub". Stopping the behavior can also be done through the web interface (which runs on mobile phones). Such behaviors demonstrate the potential of general purpose robots to fulfill many unexpected functions once deployed in homes. This sequence was captured at the Georgia Tech Aware Home.

Expert interfaces, or "Photoshop for robots" systems such as ROSCo demonstrate the potential of involving non-roboticists in making robot behaviors. Behaviors like this used to be the subject of entire robotics papers; now they can be constructed in about half an hour by non-roboticists and shared on the web.

And also this:

There are lots more in-home behaviors on YouTube here.

[ Georgia Tech Healthcare Robotics Lab ]



Now that you've enjoyed a back rub and some fanning, how about music? This is the daintiest piano-playing humanoid I've ever seen, and it can recalibrate its positioning by itself:

[ Drexel ]



Okay, time for food. Let's clean off the grill:

Starting at just $70, look for it in a couple weeks.

[ Grillbot ] via [ Gizmag ]



And we're off to the theatre!

Imagine a time when "robot maids" are commonly found in family households. That's the much-anticipated setting of these two heartrending short plays by Oriza Hirata, founder of Japan's celebrated Seinendan Theater Company. This double bill was developed in collaboration with Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a leading international researcher on robotics and Director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University.

Catch the show live in the following cities:

Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH),  January 31 – February 2

Philadelphia Live Arts (Philadelphia, PA), February 15-16

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), February 21-22

Canadian Stage (Toronto, Canada), February 26 – March 2

Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA), March 8-9

[ Japan Society ]



Okay. ENOUGH RELAXING. Let's go play rugby, a game where, as far as I can tell, people just try and destroy other people with no clear secondary objective. And they've got robots to help them now, although I'm pretty sure this one is fake:


This one, on the other hand, is probably real, although it's in French, so it's hard to tell:

The simulator was designed to analyse the risk of scrum accidents, particularly spinal injuries, and thus improve player safety. Instability and collapse of the scrum formation is one of the primary causes of player injuries. This simulator meets critical requirements for reducing accidents, but also goes one step further, as a tool for coaching purposes and match preparation. 

The scrum simulator takes the shape of a six-legged robot, relying on a six-axis motion system to respond to player inputs (force and motion) via sensors installed behind the beams/shoulder pads. 

The simulator reconstructs the scrum situation by moving the beam left and right, backwards and forwards, up and down, combined with three-axis rotation. Unlike a simple muscle development simulator, which measures forces only, the simulator is designed to develop sensory-motor control. Individual player weaknesses reduce the overall effectiveness of the scrum formation. The simulator identifies these weaknesses so as to making the scrum more steady and stable.

[ Thales Group ]



Here's a hexapod that is unambiguously real, from Trossen Robotics: it's the PhantomX Hexapod Mark II:

Yours for just $1,200.

[ Trossen Robotics ]



We weren't at Automate this year (largely because Chicago is just too cold), but here's some footage from the Adept booth showing their Adept Lynx in action:

[ Adept ]



Our think pieces this week include a talk by Rodney Brooks at Solve For X on American manufacturing, featuring some nice footage of Baxter:


And, a TED Talk from Ayanna Howard on how to make robots smarter:

[ TED ]


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