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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)

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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