Video Friday: CableRobot Simulator, Under Ice Rover, and Robotic Optical Illusions

This week's best robot videos are here!

4 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Video Friday: CableRobot Simulator, Under Ice Rover, and Robotic Optical Illusions
Photo: Philipp Miermeister/Fraunhofer IPA

Tomorrow, we’re getviting on a very large airplane and taking a very long flight to Germany to cover the 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Hamburg. Our schedule so far includes attending 152 handpicked talks over three days, which is of course impossible, but (as we always do) we’re going to do our best anyway. There are also workshops, technical tours, keynotes, plenaries, and forums: you can see everything on the schedule here.

Since we spend all day attending sessions and checking out real robots at the exhibition (did we mention that there’s an exhibit hall, because there’s an exhibit hall), that doesn’t leave a lot of spare time or energy to sit down and, you know, write articles and stuff. We’ll do our best to get you some selected highlights every day, and we’ll definitely be reporting on IROS for the next several weeks.

Oh, and if you’re going to be at IROS, make sure and say hi: I’ll be the exhausted looking guy with an oversized camera trying to see everything at once.

Well, we’re not even at IROS yet (unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t bother to read Video Fridays on Fridays), and already we’re seeing some exciting stuff pop up on YouTube. Here’s an update on UPenn’s hoppin’ robot jerboa:

I love those double hops.

[ GRASP Lab ]

And here's the first test flight of a robotic bat:

[ Illinois Aerospace Robotics and Controls Lab ]

We’ll definitely have more on these for you next week.

Shut up and take my money:

[ Fraunhofer IPA ]

Thanks Thilo!

JPL has let its under-ice exploration rover off the leash:

That almost doesn’t look real, does it? But it is, so let’s send it to Europa already.

[ JPL ]

Andreas Menn was lucky enough to take on robots in three different challenges to prove once and for all (or, for now) whether humans are doomed:

[ ]

Thanks Andreas!

Some unnamed Russian company has commissioned researchers at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad to build them a robotic spy cockroach, the “smallest roach robot ever”:

“Berkeley University has been working on their cockroach for the past four years, but they didn’t have to make it look like an insect, so it’s faster than ours. But it can’t turn at speed and it doesn’t look like a real cockroach at all. Whereas we were specifically told to create a cockroach robot on time and on budget,” [head engineer] Aleksey Belousov explains.

The robot is about 10-centimeters long, runs at 30 cm/s, can carry a payload of 10 grams, and will be skittering around autonomously by December.

[ RT ]

Twenty years ago, I was probably playing Oregon Trail on my Apple IIe. Twenty years ago, Adept started running this robot at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif., and it hasn’t stopped:


In other news, Adept was just bought by OMRON, a Japanese technology company. Well then.

[ Adept ]

And now, this:

[ RozenZebet ]

iRobot would like to remind you (again) that their robots are good for more than just vacuuming and getting blown up by IEDs:

[ iRobot ]

Weaponized Plastic Fighting League highlights from Fetch Robotics:

I like how a Freight shows up in the background at 1:45, watches for a second, and then is like “nooooooop” and drives off.

[ Fetch Robotics ]

Look out, preschoolers: HERB is stealing your jobs.

[ HERB ]




How many more gymnastics apparatuses are there for robots to master?

[ hinamitetu ]

OSHBot has been hard at work at Orchard Supply Hardware kidnapping small children:

[ OSHBot ]

I’m not sure why this video exists, but it does:

[ CyPhy Works ]

It’s yet another robotic arm on Kickstarter, but you should care about Dobot because it has 0.2-mm repeatability, a 500-gram payload, and only costs US $450.

[ Kickstarter ]

euRathlon is a new outdoor robotics competition that invites teams to test the intelligence and autonomy of their robots in realistic mock emergency-response scenarios inspired by the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The competition is going on right now, but there are a few videos up already:

[ euRathalon ]

The Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory keeps coming up with cool stuff to do with their dynamic projection mapping system. Optical illusions!

This reminds me of the amazing work done by Bot & Dolly; you’ve (probably) seen this before, but even two years later, it’s still pretty incredible:

[ Lumipen 2 ]

At the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (held inside the Sydney Opera House), Martin Ford gave a lecture, because robots, apparently, qualify as a dangerous idea.

[ Sydney Opera House ]

Robots in Depth is a new video series featuring interviews with researchers, entrepreneurs, VC investors, and policy makers in robotics, hosted by Per Sjöborg. In this first episode, Per speaks to Gregory Dudek, Research Director of the McGill Mobile Robotics Lab, about field robotics. They discuss air, surface and underwater vehicles, and review challenges and best practices for using field robots, both individually and as a collaborative team.

[ Robots In Depth ]

We’ll finish with a CMU Robotics Institute seminar from Gregory S. Chirikjian at Johns Hopkins on stochastic models in robotics:

Many stochastic problems of interest in engineering involve random rigid-body motions. In this talk, a variety of stochastic phenomena that evolve on the group of rigid-body motions will be discussed. These include mobile robot path planning, and robot-arm inverse kinematics. These topics lead in to our current work on multi-robot team diagnosis and repair, information fusion, and self-replicating robots. Videos of the latter robots developed by undergraduate student researchers and high school students during summer internships will be shown. These toy models in turn have led us to a deep mathematical investigation. Namely, in order to quantify the robustness of such robots, measures of the degree of environmental uncertainty that they can handle need to be computed. The entropy of the set of all possible arrangements (or configurations) of spare parts in the environment is such a measure, and has led us to study problems at the foundations of statistical mechanics and information theory.

[ RI Seminar ]

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