Video Friday: Robot vs. Human Workout Challenge

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Agility Robotics' Digit robot
Your robot personal trainer is here.
Image: Agility Robotics 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, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]  * * * STARTS SUNDAY!  REGISTER NOW! * * *
RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia
ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece
ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado

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

Humans are WEAK

Can it reliably identify a cat, though?

[ Agility Robotics ]

These little hops are so adorable.

[ Robomechanics Lab ]

Latest Vision 60, v4 Prototype w/ IP68 Legs. Faster, more agile, improved stability, quieter operation, higher operating temp range, narrower profile and improved gaits including 2m/s run.

Tuning Control System for Last Mile Payload Delivery- Shifting 12lbs Ball, which is quite a complex problem. Improvements to the control system for managing package, tool and other small payload deliveries for enterprise, military and consumer markets. Target 40lbs payloads for future models.

[ Ghost Robotics ]

The best part of this video of YuMi making friendship bracelets is right at the end, where it manages to tie a knot.

[ Robotdalen ]

Asimov once wrote "…catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition." We set out to capture the creative minds of young people as they are passed on the innovations of today. With a spark of inspiration, we hope to illustrate our vision of safety unified with our revolutionary autonomous systems.

[ Torc ]

A newly developed robot is being deployed into malls in Singapore to fight the new coronavirus outbreak, not with chemicals but with UV light.

[ Reuters ]

New content is up to prepare for the SubTChallenge Virtual Cave Circuit, including new practice worlds and robot model capabilities.

[ SubT ]

Now is not the time for a human to be handling your sushi.

[ Harada Lab ]

For when you prefer your drinks with minimal human interaction.

[ PAL Robotics ]

The University of Pennsylvania RoboCup team was one of the first participants in the original Sony Aibo league (renamed the Standard Platform 4-legged league in 2004), and participated in all the international competitions between 1999-2006. The team finished among at least the quarterfinalists in every one of those eight years. After a short hiatus in 2007-2008, we have reformulated the team with a new group of undergraduates and graduate students from various departments at the Engineering School at the University of Pennsylvania to continue competing annually.

[ UPenn ]

Our latest robot STERYBOT sterilizes rooms fully autonomously with highly effective UV-C germicidal light.

[ Metra Labs ]

During the GTC20 virtual keynote, Nvidia CEO and founder Jensen Huang demonstrated the industry’s first robotic AI development platform with simulation, navigation and manipulation. The first scene is a model of Nvidia's Kaya robot pushing around rigid bodies and also soft-body beach balls; second, a model manipulator picks up a bin with a suction cup, and the behavior of the suction cup is demonstrated by dropping heavy items into the bin -- the viewer will notice the bin move in response to the impulses caused by the objects landing in it; third, the manipulator stacks bins, and the model manipulator is shown connected to the Isaac SDK application. Lastly, you will see a demonstration of a model logistics #robot, transporting bins that were stacked on the pallet.


Here's what's been going on at EPFL's Reconfigurable Robotics Lab over the last year or so.

[ RRL ]

Performing large step-ups is a challenging task for a humanoid robot. It requires the robot to perform motions at the limit of its reachable workspace while straining to move its body upon the obstacle. This paper presents a non-linear trajectory optimization method for generating step-up motions. We adopt a simplified model of the centroidal dynamics to generate feasible Center of Mass trajectories aimed at reducing the torques required for the step-up motion. The activation and deactivation of contacts at both feet are considered explicitly. The output of the planner is a Center of Mass trajectory plus an optimal duration for each walking phase. These desired values are stabilized by a whole-body controller that determines a set of desired joint torques. We experimentally demonstrate that by using trajectory optimization techniques, the maximum torque required to the full-size humanoid robot Atlas can be reduced up to 20% when performing a step-up motion.

[ Paper ]

Until recently, living with robots was the stuff of sci-fi. Nowadays, it’s a reality for many: robots can clean your floor, cook you a meal, tell you the news and even crack a joke. But are they worth your time and money? Dmitry Dereshev draws on research with people who have lived with companion robots over many years, asking: What makes these robots worth the effort? How do other people react to robot owners? And what makes living with a companion robot enjoyable? Using insights from his work, he considers why many social robot start-ups fail, and what it might take for them to succeed.


This ride-along with Mobileye's autonomous vehicle in Jerusalem is notable because they've got a drone providing an aerial view of the whole thing.

I’m honestly not sure whether doing this with a drone in Israel is, uh, legal, though?

[ Mobileye ]

In this episode of the AI Podcast, Lex speaks with MIT’s Kate Darling about all the really interesting bits of robotics.

[ AI Podcast ]

Benjamin Morrell from JPL, who’s leading the CoSTAR perception subteam in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, gives a talk about (you guessed it) robot perception at JPL and the DARPA SubT Challenge.

[ SPARK Lab ]

The Conversation (0)