Video Friday: Boston Dynamics Updates, DASH Can Turn, and Inflatable Beer Bot

Why do something productive when you can spend your Friday watching robot videos?

4 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Video Friday: Boston Dynamics Updates, DASH Can Turn, and Inflatable Beer Bot

One of the (many, many, many) highlights of Video Friday this week are a trio of new videos from Boston Dynamics. The best one features WildCat, a brand new and totally awesome untethered quadruped that runs at 25 km/h (16 mph) outdoors.

In fact, it was so awesome, that we gave it its own article. So if you're one of those people who only stops by to read Video Friday (you know who you are), you'd better click here to check it out. And if you're one of those much smarter and better looking people who loyally read the entire site multiple times every day while telling everyone you meet how great it is, then congrats, you've already seen WildCat, and we can get on with the rest of the videos. Hooray!

We haven't seen a lot of footage of Atlas doing anything from any of the DRC teams yet, but this video update from Boston Dynamics itself makes us feel a little better about how the DRC might go in December.

We should also mention that we have no idea when this was actually filmed; it sort of looks like a several month old version of Atlas, but we're quite sure.


Meanwhile, LS3 has been undergoing tests in all sorts of weather:

Impressive that it can climb that slope, but since it's built to roll if it ever falls over, any slip would probably send it the entire way down the mountain.

[ Boston Dynamics ]



Two robots are better than one robot 200 percent of the time. At Sandia National Labs, robots large and small are working together marsupial-style to access otherwise unreachable areas:

[ Multi-Robot Cooperative Behavior ]



How good is your motor controller? Probably not this good.

Via [ Diginfo ]



Next time you build something with bricks, you'll want to employ this robot. Not to build it for you, but to inscribe something different on each and every brick.

[ Brick Robot ]



Caves have been spotted on the Moon and Mars, and if humans are going to spend any length of time on either of these places, caves would be a great place to stay. To explore them, Astrobotic is developing a trolley that can travel over a cave skylight on cables, and then lower a sensor package:

[ Tyrobot ]



I just checked, and a round trip flight from here (San Francisco) to Thailand for a week (leaving today) somehow only costs $1,079. After watching this video from Team Blacksheep, I'm seriously considering it. I'm sure my editor wouldn't mind. [EDITOR'S NOTE: No Thai trip for you Evan. Now get back to work.]

[ Team Blacksheep ]



Here's some footage from TU Delft's UAV programs: the IMAV drone competition in 12 m/s wind and DelFly flapping wing UAV obstacle avoidance:

[ TU Delft ]



DASH is learning how to steer!

[ DASH Robotics ]



RobotsLAB helped two high schools in Texas put together a robot fashion show with NAOs. I had no idea that NAOs could look this good, and I'm now predicting an entirely new market of designer clothing for humanoid robots.

[ RobotsLAB ]

Thanks Elad!



Here are two videos of robots from CEATEC in Japan. The first is a gigantic overengineered Roomba from Sharp, and the second features everyone's favorite robotic instant ramen noodle bowl, along with a few other bots that you might recognize.

Via [ YouTube ]



The secret to Sphero is that it can trick kids into thinking that it's just a toy, and not a clever tool to teach them to program:

[ Sphero 2.0 ]



While we're talking about robots that you can actually afford, here are some highlights from using the GPS Flight Recorder on the AR Drone:

[ AR Drone ]



Somewhere between 0 percent and 95 percent of robot demos begin with the words "robot, bring me a beer." In this case the robot is made of fabric and powered by air, but that doesn't make it any less deadly with a beer bottle. Oh wait, yes it does.

[ Otherlab ]



A team of 3D Robotics staff members goes to Kunde Family Vineyards, a vineyard in Kenwood, California to test a project that could help agriculture by providing aerial images. Our team worked with Ryan Kunde, a winemaker at DRNK Wines, who can use the images to spot differences in his farmland, giving him a better idea of where/when to harvest or to spot other changes in his land such as unhealthy plants.

This is great news for commercializing UAVs, and somewhat less great news for the top-notch aerial imaging companies who are already doing this sort of work. 

Via [ DIY Drones ]



Dyson doesn't have a robot vacuum. But, they do have lots of engineers who seem to have a lot of fun designing robots that don't vacuum at all:

Or, maybe this is all super secret way of getting those Dyson engineers to build a robot vacuum. Here's hoping.



Okay, let's try this livestream thing again, because CMU is putting on a good one: Sangbae Kim will be talking about "Actuation, structure and control of the MIT cheetah robot."

In designing a new generation of legged robots, it is critical to understand the design principles employed by animals. One of the key steps to successful development of such bio-inspired robots is to systematically extract relevant biological principles, rather than direct copying features of an animal solution, which may be impossible to realize or irrelevant in engineering domain. The talk will introduce several examples that successfully implement bio-inspired design principles learned from animals. Our highlighting example is the development of the MIT Cheetah, currently running at 13.5mph with an locomotion efficiency rivaling animals. The research thrusts of the MIT Cheetah include optimum actuator design, biotensegrity structure design, and the momentum balancing control architecture for a fast and stable gallop. Each research component is guided by the biomechanics studies of runners such as dogs and cheetahs capable of fast traverse on rough and unstructured terrains. Through this project, we seek to derive design principles of quadrupedal locomotion that share characteristics with available mechanical and electrical capabilities in order to develop most efficient, robust robots, which will be part of our life in the future.


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