Video Friday: Boston Dynamics Robots in VR, NASA Rovers, and Valkyrie Package Delivery

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum’s digital innovation director.

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robots
Image: Within

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!):

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.

This virtual reality film transports you to Boston Dynamics’ headquarters and puts you right next to SpotMini (they have four of them!) and Atlas as they walk, run, and playfully crash into each other. It’s really cool footage, even if you get totally sick like we did. You can watch it as a 360° video on your browser but it’s way more fun to experience it with a VR headset (here are instructions to watch it using Google Cardboard and other viewers). 

[ Within ]

Remote operation of robots is tricky, especially when you’re dealing with time delays from spaaaaace. NASA Ames has some fancy software called VERVE, a 3D robot user interface, to make it all work:

That Astrobee robot is pretty cute, right? Want to know all the cool stuff about it? We’ve got an exclusive for you with the NASA Ames researchers working on it, so come back next week.

[ NASA Ames IRG ]

HOSPI(R) [created by Panasonic in Japan] is a robot that can deliver goods autonomously on behalf of humans. Based on preprogrammed map information and using high performance sensors and advanced collision-avoidance algorithm, the robot can move about while staying aware of its surroundings, enabling it to deliver items safely and efficiently without colliding into passersby or various objects along its route.

I’m not sure how the robot will “retrieve used dishware and deliver them to the relevant counter.” I feel like without any arms, the best it’s going to be able to do is wander over to you and beg for you to jam your dirty spork into some orifice or other.

Also, for the robot’s sake, don’t let kids near it.

[ Panasonic ]

It wouldn’t be a Video Friday without another drone-delivery video:

All these demos take place in these nice obstacle-free bucolic areas, but at the same time companies talk about making deliveries anywhere, so okay, how are you not going to run into stuff?

[ Drone Delivery Canada ]

Emmanuel Campos from CINVESTAV in Mexico wrote in to share this video showing “the results of an implementation of a customized algorithm for trajectory planning with a Crazyflie 2.0 platform inside a scenario consisting of two hundred interwoven strings and twenty poles inside a volume of two cubic meters.”

I would guess that the quadrotor is probably super confused as to why these researchers are making it navigate through a maze with an open top, but to find out for sure, you can read about it in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters or wait for ICRA 2017.

[ Paper ]

Thanks Emmanuel!

Package delivery with Valkyrie, for people who really, really don’t want to have to move packages from one side of a small room to the other side of that same small room:

We all saw you move that box down, buddy!

[ Edinburgh ]

JPL is preparing their Mars 2020 rover by testing out a design similar to Curiosity in the JPL Mars yard:

[ JPL ]

I’ve done the jobs that these Rethink Sawyer robots are taking. Good riddance, if you ask me.

[ Rethink ]

This is not the first bagpipe playing robot, and it certainly won’t be the last. As a semi-professional bagpiper, I’m not sure what to think about this trend.

“In time I can add arms and a head.” Oh good.

[ Instructables ] via [ Gizmodo ]

After the onslaught of cute white social home robots at CES, I’m really beginning to appreciate the uniqueness of BIG-i’s design:

Not bad for a robot with no arms.


This NEXTAGE robot with a mobile base looks like it can completely replace one human lab technician, as long as everything is in exactly the right place:

[ Kawada ] via [ Kazumichi Moriyama ]

Why do you feel comfortable or even empathetic to a robot? Mashable explores how humans develop an emotional connection with machines, and how engineers are designing that connection.

[ Mashable ]

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