Video Friday: Baxter Gets a Turbo Mode, Nao Steps on Things, and Robonaut Doesn't Like You

We got some bad news about the new Kinect sensor, but we're trying not to let it get us down

2 min read
Video Friday: Baxter Gets a Turbo Mode, Nao Steps on Things, and Robonaut Doesn't Like You

Video Friday is late today. It's late because we were too depressed to get out of bed this morning. Last night, we heard from a member of the Kinect for Windows developer team that they have "no plans" to release open source drivers for the next generation Kinect, meaning that all of the awesome and magical things that the original Kinect enabled for robotics won't evolve into even more awesome and more magical things with Microsoft's new sensor. 


All we can do is try to move forward and make ourselves feel better in the only way we know how: with robot videos.

Nobody (almost nobody) who gets a robot in their home is going to want to have to interact with it using some sort of peripheral device like a computer or phone. Simple and intuitive commands are the way to go, as shown in this robot waiter demo from Robosoft in France and a bunch of collaborators:

You may have noticed that the reason that this robot is able to do any of this stuff is WITH A KINECT SENSOR. ARGGG.

Okay, I'll stop, I promise.




"This is JSC" is a satirical series created by students at NASA Johnson Space Center.

Either that, or they just want us to believe that it's satirical, because Robonaut is actually running the show over there.

[ Robonaut ]



Professional wrestling is all about the spectacle, and it's no different with robots:

Via [ YouTube ]



People are outnumbered by sheep in New Zealand by 5:1. But don't let that stop you from going, 'cause it's a beautiful place, especially through the eyes of cleverly flown UAVs:

[ Team Blacksheep ]



Looks like Geminoid DK is going on vacation!

You want to see that what in Costa Rica? I think somebody needs a reprogramming...

[ Geminoid DK ]



With fancy new 1.1.2 software, Baxter is now TURBO BAXTER:

[ Rethink Robotics ]



These hexapods are only toys, but not bad for $80:

[ ThinkGeek ]



Intuitive Surgical's DaVinci system has dominated the robotic surgery market for years, but robotics has advanced enough that it's possible to build a similar robot for a lot less money:

Building the robot is the easy part, though. Getting it certified to operate on people is the real challenge.

Via [ Diginfo ]



From the Humanoid Robots Lab at the University of Freiburg:

This video illustrates our integrated system that allows humanoid robots to autonomously navigate in unknown, cluttered environments. From the data of an on-board consumer-grade depth camera, our system estimates the robot's pose to compensate for drift of odometry and maintains a heightmap representation of the environment. Based on this model, our system iteratively computes sequences of safe actions including footsteps and whole-body motions, leading the robot to target locations. As the video shows, the robot is able to traverse highly challenging passages by building an accurate heightmap from the data of the onboard depth camera and choosing suitable actions. 

And the only reason Nao is able to do this stuff? A KINECT SENSOR. ARGGGGGG.

[ Humanoids Freiburg ]



And lastly, this:


Via [ Gizmodo ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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