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Video Friday: DLR Robot Car, Lady Gaga's Drone Swarm, and Cassie Does Squats

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

DLR ROboMObil robotic car
This is how robocars parallel park.
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 two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

Robotics Alley – February 28-1, 2017 – Minneapolis, Minn., USA
HRI 2017 – March 6-9, 2017 – Vienna, Austria
IEEE ARSO – March 8-10, 2017 – Austin, Texas, USA
IEEE SSRR – March 10-13, 2017 – Shanghai, China
NYC Drone Film Festival – March 17-19, 2017 – NYC, NY, USA
European Robotics Forum – March 22-24, 2017 – Edinburgh, Scotland
Automate – April 3-3, 2017 – Chicago, Ill., USA
ITU Robot Olympics – April 7-9, 2017 – Istanbul, Turkey
U.S. National Robotics Week – April 8-16, 2017 – USA
NASA Swarmathon – April 18-20, 2017 – NASA KSC, Florida, USA
RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
ICARSC – April 26-30, 2017 – Coimbra, Portugal
AUVSI Xponential – May 8-11, 2017 – Dallas, Texas, USA

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

You may recognize some of the robots featured in this 10-minute overview of DLR’s Robotics and Mechatronics Center: Rollin’ Justin, Toro, LBR iiwa. But the one that caught our attention (starting at 5:40) is the super sleek ROboMObil vehicle. The narration is in German, so we recommend turning on the auto-translated subtitles for a more informative (and occasionally amusing) viewing experience.


Large, fixed-wing UAVs are just like any other airplane in that taking off and landing is a big scary thing. Working under a DARPA contract, Aurora Flight Sciences has designed a prototype launch and capture system that can snatch 1,100-pound drones out of the air but packs down into a standard shipping container:

I like how the concept videos are all nice and smooth and gentle, and the actual testing is... not.


If you were just watching TV last weekend, you probably saw this 300-drone light show from Intel, with someone obstructing the view by singing in front of them.

[ Intel ]

Cassie, Agility Robotics’ new bipedal robot, can support the weight of one roboticist, approximately:

They don’t have plans to put a saddle on Cassie yet, but we hear a rickshaw might be in the works. Also in the works (we hope): more blooper videos.

[ Agility Robotics ]

Bots_Alive has nearly doubled its goal on Kickstarter, but there are still a few days left to save up the $35 bucks it takes to get a kit if you have a hexbug spider. Part of the fun of this thing is that you can figure out entertaining ways of messing with it to see what it does, like this one:

If you’re still undecided, Brad did a massive demo for Kickstarter live, which should totally sell you on how cool this thing is. 

[ Kickstarter ] via [ Bots Alive ]

The University of Michigan will be getting one of the first Cassie robots from Agility Robotics, but Jessy Grizzle tells us that MARLO still has some ankle-breaking work to do for at least another year:


[ University of Michigan ]

The UTAP-22 is a robotic wingman that can keep up with fighter aircraft. This is not a new video, but I hadn’t seen it before, so here you go.

The follow-up project to this is the XQ-222, which is much cooler looking.

[ Kratos ] via [ Aviation Week ]

We see a lot of potential with inexpensive robot arms like this. Hopefully this one can deliver on both hardware and software promises.

[ Indiegogo ]

Always nice to see success stories from collaborative robot users, and here are a couple from Rethink Robotics:

[ Rethink Robotics ]

Watching drone racing from an FPV perspective is kind of cool:

But I’m not sure why anyone would go and see an event in person. And yeah, I don’t get why people go watch cars quickly drive in circles, either.

[ DRL ]

I didn’t see this at CES, probably because I was blinded by the shine coming off of these robots:

[ Denso ] via [ ResponseJP ]

The Robotic Craftsmanship International Academy (RobotCraft) is a summer school that teaches the basics of robot design and the fundamentals of programming in ROS. It looks like fun:

This year it runs from the 3 July to 3 September, in Coimbra, Portugal.

[ RobotCraft ] via [ ROS News ]

And now, a whack-a-mole game made out of LEGO Mindstorms:

[ RoboticSolutions ]

Remember back in 2007 when autonomous cars were a new thing? CMU remembers.

[ CMU ]

Léa Pereyre is a Drone Costume Designer (how’s that for a job that probably didn’t exist six months ago) at Verity Studios, a drone performance company co-founded by our good friend Marcus Waibel. In this talk, which of course includes costumed drones, Léa discusses “the joy and challenges of dressing the drones of tomorrow.”

[ Verity Studios ] via [ Robohub ]

Last week’s CMU Robotics Institute Seminar comes from Duke University’s Kris Hauser: “Beyond Geometric Path Planning: Paradigms and Algorithms for Modern Robotics.”

The development of fast randomized algorithms for geometric path planning – computing collision-free paths for high dimensional systems – was a major achievement in the field of motion planning in the 2000’s. But since then, recent advances in affordable robot sensors, actuators, and systems have changed the robotics playing field, making many of the assumptions of geometric path planning obsolete. This talk will present new mathematical paradigms and algorithms that are beginning to address some of the issues faced in robotics today and into the future. Specifically, this talk will address the issues of optimality, plan interpretability, planning with contact, and integrating planning with perception and learning.

[ CMU RI Seminar ]

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