The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Image: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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!):

EU Robotics Week – November 16-25, 2018 – Europe
ICSR 2018 – November 28-30, 2018 – Qingdao, China
RoboDEX – January 16-18, 2019 – Tokyo, Japan

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

We present the collaborative humanoid robot ARMAR-6, which has been developed to perform a wide variety of complex maintenance tasks in industrial environments, collaborating with human workers. We present the hardware, software, and functional architecture of the robot as well as its current abilities. Those include the recognition of the need of help of a human worker, the execution of maintenance plans, compliant bimanual manipulation, vision-based grasping, fluent object handover, human activity recognition, natural dialog, navigation and more. We demonstrate the high level of technology readiness for real world applications in a complex demonstration scenario, shown more than 50 times at the CEBIT 2018 exhibition.


We never really understood the whole bottle flipping fad, but now we don’t have to, since robots have mastered it.

[ ROBOCON ] via [ Robotstart ]


[ Suzimori Endo Lab ]

It remains to be seen if these arms are capable and reliable under different conditions, but the prices are quite impressive: xArm 5 = $2300, xArm 6 = $5400, xArm 7 = $6400. They have 5, 6, and 7 DoF, respectively. All joints of xArm 6 and 7 use Harmonic Drive gears, and xArm 5 uses Harmonic Drive gears and low-backlash gearboxes. We look forward to seeing what people will be able to do with these arms.

[ UFactory ] via [ Kickstarter ]

Here’s one of the more interesting multirotor designs we’ve seen in a while.

Omnidirectional MAVs are a growing field, with demonstrated advantages for aerial interaction and uninhibited observation. While systems with complete pose omnidirectionality and high hover efficiency have been developed independently, a robust system that combines the two has not been demonstrated to date. This paper presents VoliroX: a novel omnidirectional vehicle that can exert a wrench in any orientation while maintaining efficient flight configurations. The system design is presented, and a 6 DOF geometric control that is robust to singularities. Flight experiments further demonstrate and verify its capabilities.

[ arXiv ] via [ ASL ]

Cybathlon is back in 2020!

[ Cybathlon ]

Robotiq has released the next generation of the world’s best-selling grippers for collaborative robots: the 2F-85 and 2F-140. Both models feature many new updates, while retaining the same key benefits that have inspired thousands of manufacturers to choose them since their launch 6 years ago.

The new Adaptive Grippers are less exposed to factory air, dust, and fluids. Their finger bases have been redesigned to simplify fingertip changeover and ensure a reliable grip. The overall design is smoother and rounder, with every sharp edge removed. Each one also includes an accessories holder near the base. The new 2F-85 and 2F-140 are connected to Universal Robots’ safety function, making them more collaborative than ever.

[ Robotiq ]

Verity’s drone failsafe technologies are a unique approach that utilize algorithms alone, or algorithms + hardware architecture to make today’s drones significantly safer and more reliable. Unlike adding extra props or parachutes, Verity’s approach enables any companies flying drones around or above people to ensure the safety of their drones without adding significant operating expenses or inefficiencies.

[ Verity ]

This is maybe more animatronic than robotic, but it’s also a giant freakin’ minotaur!

[ Les Machines ]

Thanks Thomas!

Human race car drivers can learn over time to improve their driving techniques, and robot race cars can, too:

A 20 percent reduction in lap time is substantial, and after just a few laps that’s quite an improvement.

[ IDSC ]

Thanks Juraj!

ROVéo is (still) one of the simplest, most robust stair-climbing robots we’ve seen.

[ Rovenso ]

Softbank’s latest vision for Pepper and Nao? Robots are good for business—because they are eye candy.

[ Softbank ]

Mesmer 2.0 features a new neck design for even greater expressive capacity. Thanks to embedded cameras in the eyes, Mesmer characters can track faces and mimic their head and mouth positions. And thanks to new quick release system, a head can be switched off, removed and replaced, and be back working within a minute.

We wish our heads would do that.

[ Engineered Arts ]

Thanks Michael!

The video shows some scenes from the RoboCup 2018 Humanoid League AdultSize Soccer competitions and Technical Challenges in Montreal, Canada. It features the new open hard- and software 3D printed NimbRo-OP2X robot, which was developed by the Autonomous Intelligent Systems group of University of Bonn, Germany.

[ NimbRo ]

An experience we can all share, from DJI.

This definitely happens on my yacht all the time.

[ DJI ]

PiRoB is climbing pipes. Pretty sure this is sped up a bit but I’m not sure how much—maybe 2x?


WAREC-1 has some versatile end-effectors that can be feet or hands or both.

[ Takanishi Lab ]

An AI (Artificial Intelligence) watched all the TED talks and created this talk from what it learned. It is presented by Alex Reben who is an MIT-trained roboticist and artist who explores humanity through the lens of art and technology.

It watched ALL the TED Talks? That’s cruel.

[ TEDxSF ]

By the time you see this, the Bay Area Robotics Symposium should be in full swing, and you can watch it on this YouTube live stream:

[ BARS ]

This week’s CMU RI Seminar is from Hanumant Singh at Northeastern, with the clever title of “Bipolar Robotics – Arctic to Antarctic, Fisheries in the Middle.”

From the Arctic to the Antarctic with a stop for Fisheries in the middle latitudes. Abstract: The Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland remain some of the least explored parts of the planet. This talk looks at efforts over the last decade to explore areas under-ice which have traditionally been difficult to access. The focus of the talk will be on the robots, the role of communications over low bandwidth acoustic links, navigation and imaging and mapping methodologies. These issues will all be discussed within the context of real data collected on several expeditions related to Marine Geology, Marine Biology, Sea-Ice, and Glaciology. In addition the talk will also highlight efforts devoted to the area of fisheries stock assessment.

[ CMU RI ]

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
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

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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