China's Jueying Quadruped Robot
Photo: Zhejiang University

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 few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

Robotic Arena—12 January 2019—Wrocław, Poland
RoboDEX—16–18 January 2019—Tokyo, Japan

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

A new version of the four-legged “Jueying” robot was released on 4 December. The new “Jueying” robot, a small-size quadruped robot that can handle 20-kilogram objects, is capable of running and climbing stairs. The new “Jueying” robot is marked by a better ability to strike a balance while running and a greater capability of adapting to more complicated terrains, said one of the developers. “Jueying” can issue an order every 0.5 millisecond, adapt quickly to the environment, give an order while it is on the verge of losing its balance and make adjustments with a series of fast-paced mobility. At present, it has grasped a myriad of skills. It can run, jump, climb stairs, walk on gravel paths, and squat and stand up. Even supposing it falls down, it can automatically adjust its body position and rise to its feet again. It can fulfill multiple tasks and is thereby expected to be a powerful assistant in daily life.

[ Zhejiang University ] via [ Xinhua ]

The need for efficient, rapid, resilient transportation for disaster assistance is what led Hyundai to develop the first-ever vehicle with movable legs. Elevate is the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), blending technology found in electric cars and robots, which allows it to traverse terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle.

Hyundai also went above and beyond by making a small-scale operational version of the legged wheelie base:

[ Hyundai ]

Aww, Pepper is shy! But if you’re nice, Pepper will get less shy.

[ Playful ]

The friendliest new freshman at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., arrives on campus today—and it’s stocked with snacks and beverages. Meet snackbot, the outdoor, self-driving robot bringing enticing snacks and beverages from Hello Goodness, a curated portfolio of better-for-you brands from PepsiCo, to hungry college students. As part of a collaborative partnership with Bay Area–based Robby Technologies, the Hello Goodness fleet of snackbots are the first robots from a major food and beverage company in the United States to roll out, bringing great-tasting, healthier snacks and beverages direct to students, making better-for-you snacking ultraconvenient.

[ Robby ] via [ PepsiCo ]

Building a repertoire of arm trajectories for ball throwing with a Baxter robot. The repertoire acquired in simulation is transferred in reality. In case of error, a local adaptation process modifies the trajectory to throw the ball to the expected target position.

[ Robots that Dream ]

This real trailer for a real movie about a murdersome DJI Phantom is moderately NSFW (language, some PG-13 scenes, and a surprising amount of fake blood) but totally worth it.

[ IMDB ] via [ PetaPixel ]

MARA, Acutronic Robotics’ modular cobot moves smooth and fast, and is built out of individual modules that natively run ROS 2.0.

[ Acutronic ]

Some video clips from the central event of European Robotics Week 2018, in Augsburg, Germany.

[ ERW ]

One of the biggest challenges for using telepresence robots is the ability to clearly see content on whiteboards and printed documents, especially in the classroom or during meetings. The new Ohmni Supercam contains the highest resolution camera available in a telepresence robot. Combined with OhmniLabs’ new Streaming Snapshot feature, users can take 13MP (4208 x 3120) snapshots anytime in-call. The snapshots are instantly streamed straight to the browser and can be zoomed in for incredible detail making the sharing of information easy, efficient, and clear.

[ OhmniLabs ]

By automating their six-station COS (cast-on strap) process for manufacturing industrial lead-acid batteries using a Kawasaki large payload robot, Battery Builders increased throughput, improved product quality, and decreased the number of operators needed for this task.

[ Kawasaki ]

From what I understand, this is a robotic figure that can be dressed up as the anime character of your choosing. Presumably it’s intended for theme parks and stores.

On sale 19 January for a mere $185,000.

Speecys ] via [ RobotStart ]

Boost packaging productivity with the KUKA.PickControl robot software—the easy way to coordinate and control multiple robots for pick-and-place applications. Specially developed for the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market segment.

[ Kuka ]

Robots at work since 2013! Baetsen, in the Netherlands, was one of the first companies to invest in robotic waste sorting. The first robotic units were installed to the facility in Son, Netherlands, in 2013. In 2015 the site was upgraded with two Heavy Pickers that sort heavy demolition timber from mixed construction-and-demolition waste.

[ ZenRobotics ]

Gill Pratt brings us up to date about Toyota’s autonomous driving program at CES, starting with an actual accident (and potential Guardian use case) experienced by one of Toyota’s test vehicles.

Inevitable crashes, inevitable injuries, inevitable fatalities. We love Gill Pratt for keeping expectations realistic while still hanging on to some optimism about the future.

[ Toyota ]

This is the full video of the Lighthill debate on Artificial Intelligence, organized in 1973 to discuss the advances and limits of artificial intelligence, featuring James Lighthill, Donald Michie, Richard Gregory, and John McCarthy.

In 1973, professor Sir James Lighthill was asked by Parliament to evaluate the state of AI research in the United Kingdom. His report, now called the Lighthill report, criticized the utter failure of AI to achieve its “grandiose objectives.” He concluded that nothing being done in AI couldn’t be done in other sciences. He specifically mentioned the problem of “combinatorial explosion” or “intractability,” which implied that many of AI’s most successful algorithms would grind to a halt on real-world problems and were only suitable for solving “toy” versions.

The report was contested in a debate broadcast in the BBC “Controversy” series in 1973. The debate, “The general purpose robot is a mirage,” from the Royal Institute was Lighthill versus the team of Michie, McCarthy, and Gregory.

The report led to the near-complete dismantling of AI research in England.

[ YouTube ]

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
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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
DarkGray

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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