Video Friday: This Free-Flying Robot Head Is Like Alexa for Astronauts

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

CIMON-2 is a football-sized, free-flying technology demonstrator equipped with artificial intelligence for the astronaut assistant
Image: DLR via YouTube

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!):

ICRA 2020 – May 31-4, 2020 – [Online or Postponed]
RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia

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

In 2017, a team of USC Viterbi researchers created ADAMMS (Agile Dexterous Autonomous Mobile Manipulation System), a robot designed to support repetitive human tasks, like transporting equipment or tending a 3-D printer at 3 a.m. ADAMMS can perform specific actions like opening doors or picking up objects autonomously. These researchers, including postdoctoral researcher in the USC Viterbi Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Pradeep Rajendran, AME Ph.D student Shantanu Thakar, Department of Computer Science master’s student Hyojeong Kim and M.S. AME’18 Vivek Annem, envisioned a tool that could support humans remotely.

Three years later, in the throes of a global pandemic, Thakar and his team wondered if they could adapt ADAMMS to help reduce spread of infection using UV light as a disinfection tool. “We already have a robot that can reach into drawers or under a keyboard,” Thakar said. “Why not use it to help?”

For the ADAMMS robot to be effectively deployed to hospitals, offices and other critical spaces, first the user interface needs to be accessible through a diverse array of devices, like mobile phones and tablets, and made more user-friendly, Kim said.

In an ideal world, the team hopes the robot can be completely remotely operated—perhaps by a human in a different city or even country. “Someone sitting in the U.S. could disinfect a space in India or China, when it’s night there,” Thakar said. He also sees it as an opportunity to create jobs safely. “If we can easily and quickly train people to use this robot, people can remain in the safety of their homes while helping to make other spaces safe as well.”

[ USC Viterbi ]

Thanks SK!

CIMON-2 is a football-sized, free-flying technology demonstrator equipped with artificial intelligence for the astronaut assistant of tomorrow. It was launched on December 5, 2019 for the International Space Station. CIMON-2 demonstrated its interactive capabilities to ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano.

Among other things, its autonomous flight skills, voice control of navigation and the assignment of tasks to CIMON-2 were tested. For the first time, the approach to a specific point within the European Columbus module was completed. Thanks to the orientation in the room, CIMON-2 was able to use verbal commands to get to a specific location - regardless of its current position in the room. Luca Parmitano asked his "assistant" during the commissioning of the new hardware and software to fly to the Biological Experiment Laboratory within the research module.


Hey remember how it was Easter?

Okay that’s super cute.


Insects set an incredibly high standard for bioinspired robots, but SNU might be catching up!

[ Science Robotics ]

I think this is the most graceful humanoid robot of any size or level of complexity that I’ve ever seen.

[ DrGuero2001 ]

In SOCRATES we look at the necessary balance between the robot’s level of autonomy (LOA) and the amount and pace of information it should provide (LOT – level of transparency) – so that people will get just the right amount of feedback from the robot (too much may distract them, too little may cause confusion, distrust, and abandonment fo this technology).

[ Tal Oron-Gilad ]

Thanks Andy!

An autonomous mission to find a fire in a multi-story building. The mission is completed by a collaborating robotic team, consisting of a hexacopter and a tricopter. The approach exploits the mapping and precise control capabilities of each of the vehicles respectively.

[ ASL ]

ElringKlinger, one of the world’s leading system partners to the automotive industry, can produce around 300,000 battery modules for use in electric vehicles, as well as for other areas of application, each year on the modular and fully automated battery module production line at its production site in Thale, Germany.

[ Kuka ]

NASA and its industry partners are taking unmanned aircraft systems closer to operating in harmony with other aircraft in the national airspace. The technology and procedures developed during a nearly decade-long program has been assisting the Federal Aviation Administration, develop the rules for certification of unmanned aircraft.

[ NASA ]

HRI 2020 was online this year. We’re working on a bunch of articles, but in the meantime, here are four interesting videos we found from poking through the proceedings. If you’re interested, everything is currently available as open access.

The elderly are more affected by higher environmental temperatures. If they misperceive the temperature, it can lead to a number of potentially dangerous health issues. To address this, we propose a robot that sweats to indicate the high environmental temperature to the elderly. In this paper, we present the design of our first prototype for exploring the human perception of robot sweat status.

[ HRI Paper ]

The demand for pet monitoring devices is growing due to the increasing number of one-person households raising pets. However, current monitoring methods using video camera entail various problems, which may lead to discontinued usage. To overcome this problem, we propose Petbe, a social robot that projects your own pet using a context-aware approach based on BLE beacons and Raspberry Pis. The corresponding smartphone application provides various robot status updates (robot head) and movements (robot body). With the development of Petbe, we conducted an exploratory study to verify the advancement of the above issues on monitoring user’s own pets with the following factors: privacy concern, companionship, awareness, connectivity, and satisfaction. The outcomes indicate that Petbe helps to reduce privacy concerns and build companionship through empathetic interaction.

[ HRI Paper ]

Social robots have been shown to help in language education for children. This can be good aid for immigrant children that need additional help to learn a second language their parents do not understand to attend school. We present the setup for a long-term study that is being carried out in blinded to aid immigrant children with poor skills in the Norwegian language to improve their vocabulary. This includes additional tools to help parents follow along and provide additional help at home.

[ HRI Paper ]

The general topic of this inquiry looks at the methodology of design for new types of companions robots, in the context of a domestic setting. Personalization is essential, but most of Human Robot Interaction (HRI) research focus on adaptive behaviour for social interactions using commercially available devices. These robots represent finite projects, with very little room left for meaningful physical alterations. The goal of this research is to study the impact amongst users, of a robot offering by its conception, a high range of choice for personal customisation.

[ HRI Paper ]

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