Video Friday: Dogs That Code, Robotic Football Team, and Self-Driving Bicycle

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

7 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Video Friday: Dogs That Code, Robotic Football Team, and Self-Driving Bicycle
Image: Google Netherlands via YouTube

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your gullible 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!):

National Robotics Week – April 2-10, 2016 – United States
AISB HRI Symposium – April 5-6, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
ROS-Industrial Training Class – April 6-8, 2016 – San Antonio, Texas, USA
IEEE Haptics Symposium – April 8-11, 2016 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Robotics in Education 2016 – April 14-15, 2016 – Vienna, Austria
NASA Swarmathon – April 18-22, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
LEO Robotics Congress – April 21, 2016 – Eindhoven, Netherlands
FIRST Robotics Championship – April 27-30, 2016 – St. Louis, Missouri
International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICARSC 2016 – May 4-6, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
ARMS 2016 – May 9-13, 2016 – Singapore
ICRA 2016 – May 16-21, 2016 – Stockholm, Sweden
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 18-20, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
Skolkovo Robotics Conference – May 20, 2016 – Skolkovo, Russia
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France
RoboCity16 – May 26-27, 2016 – Madrid, Spain
RoboBusiness Europe – June 1-3, 2016 – Odense, Denmark
IEEE RAS MRSSS 2016 – June 6-10, 2016 – Singapore
CR-HRI – June 6-10, 2016 – Orlando, Fla., USA
NASA SRRC Level 1 – June 6-11, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
Field Robot Event – June 14-18, 2016 – Haßfurt, Germany
RSS 2016 – June 18-22, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Mich., USA
European Land Robot Trial – June 20-24, 2016 – Eggendorf, Austria
Automatica 2016 – June 21-25, 2016 – Munich, Germany
ISR 2016 – June 21-22, 2016 – Munich, Germany
UK National Robotics Week – June 25-1, 2016 – United Kingdom
TAROS 2016 – June 28-30, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
RoboCup 2016 – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
Amazon Picking Challenge – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany

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

This is a fantastic idea!

“Our new technology solves all your problems linked to writing and typing. The automated cell uses an advanced technology that recognizes the human voice and types the exact same text on the device of your choice. The technology is available for pen, pencil, keyboard, laptop, smartphone and tablet.”

[ Robotiq ]

OMG! Fantastic!

“WonderPaw is a revolutionary new coding application fusing cutting-edge educational software with Wonder Workshop’s proprietary 4-paw’d touch interface. For months, our team of Canine Researchers tirelessly studied the mind of a dog to better understand the way dogs think, learn, and make decisions. This research has led to the development of a new curriculum carefully crafted to a dog’s needs and guaranteed to turn your family’s best friend into the family engineer.”

[ Wonder Workshop ]

Fantastic x 11!

“Big changes are on the horizon for Big Green football. Dartmouth’s development of the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) has put it at the forefront of the effort to prevent injuries to student-athletes. In 2016, Dartmouth will be taking this initiative to the next level.”

[ Dartmouth ]


“This spring, Google is introducing the self-driving bicycle in Amsterdam, the world’s premier cycling city. The Dutch cycle more than any other nation in the world, almost 900 kilometres per year per person, amounting to over 15 billion kilometres annually. The self-driving bicycle enables safe navigation through the city for Amsterdam residents, and furthers Google’s ambition to improve urban mobility with technology. Google Netherlands takes enormous pride in the fact that a Dutch team worked on this innovation that will have great impact in their home country.”

[ Google Netherlands ]


“Experience the power of driving in a fully autonomous RV. Using the latest advancements in software and ultrasonic hardware, our engineers from the Pembina Valley have perfected the future of the self-driving vehicle. But we’ve taken it one step further.”

[ Leisure Travel Vans ]


[ Sphero ]


“Zumba Fitness and iRobot, creator of the Roomba vacuum cleaning robot, have teamed up to give cleaning and exercising (two of life’s unavoidable activities) a healthy dose of daily color and fun. Introducing the all new #ZumbaRoomba (coming Summer 2016)!”

[ Zumba ]

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

“This Video shows the effectiveness of a novel control approach for motion tracking and damping assignment in compliantly actuated robotic systems on an anthropomorphic robot system, the DLR Hand Arm System, with highly nonlinear variable stiffness actuators.”

In other words, more beating on robots for science.

[ DLR ]

REEM-C & TIAGo from PAL Robotics welcome you to ERF.

[ PAL Robotics ]

“Chromaticity: An ethereal flight over the ocean as mysterious colored smoke leaves its mark across the sky. A beautiful choreography between four drones simultaneously in flight and hundreds of smoke grenades.”

And how it was done:

[ Aerobo ] via [ Gizmodo ]

This untethered pneumatic robot is from 2013, but the video is new. What’s cool about this is the reversible electrolysis to turn energy into pneumatic pressure:

You can read more about this technology in our article from last October

[ Suzumori Endo Robotics Laboratory ]

Yeah so where exactly do I sign up to try this myself, because it looks like immensely satisfying fun:

[ Delft Dynamics ]

Oh man, if only KUKA would start selling these Settlers of Catan-playing robot arms, I could finally get rid of all my friends!

[ KUKA ]

The fact that drones are obnoxiously loud frankly never struck me as an advantage, but EPFL has taught teams of drones to localize and navigate by listening to each others’ annoying whine, and sometimes even augmenting that whine with MORE NOISE:

“In a team of autonomous drones, individual knowledge about the relative location of teammates is essential. Existing relative positioning solutions for teams of small drones mostly rely on external systems such as motion tracking cameras or GPS satellites that might not always be accessible. In this letter, we describe an onboard solution to measure the 3-D relative direction between drones using sound as the main source of information.

First, we describe a method to measure the directions of other robots from perceiving their engine sounds in the absence of self-engine noise. We then extend the method to use active acoustic signaling to obtain the relative directions in the presence of self-engine noise, to increase the detection range, and to discriminate the identity of robots. Methods are evaluated in real world experiments and a fully autonomous leader-following behavior is illustrated with two drones using the proposed system.”

[ Paper ] via [ EPFL ]

Imagine what you could do with a room full of robotic tongues:

Exactly what you were imagining, right?

[ Insent ] via [ DigInfo ]

The description for this video is why I usually don’t try to write about art:

“We explore an art form where machines take essential role in aesthetics and processes of the creation. Our main theme can be summarized as ‘body, hybrid, and evolve’ - as we study an artistic medium that incorporates mechanical machines that institutes a hybrid creation process as well as an expressive capacity beyond body limits.

‘Flying Pantograph’ transposes human-scale drawing acts to a physically remote output canvas in different scales and aesthetics. A drone becomes an ‘expression agent’ - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium.

The seemingly straightforward technical realization is in fact a combination of non-trivial mechanical and algorithmic solutions. The drone, a floating machine, is relying on a slim chance of stabilization acquired by battling the vortex of air, the pressure and friction on the canvas surface, and the capricious mind of the human artist. This suspense, the vulnerability to instability and the aftermath of crashing, poses a contrast with the optimistic idea of technologically evolved capability of a human artist.”

I would have said it’s a quadrotor with a marker strapped to it plus a motion capture system being used to very creatively draw stuff. However you want to describe it, it’s a pretty cool idea.

[ MIT ] via [ Engadget ]

The University of Maryland has four (four!) Baxter robots, and one of them is trying to make duckie juice:

Mmmmm, duckie juice...

[ Rethink Robotics ]

This 7-minute long animation from NASA imagines how a future of advanced space systems (including lots and lots of robots) will enable deep space exploration and colonization:

[ NASA ]

“We develop PRINTEPS, a platform to construct practical applications of artificial intelligence, integrating common sense reasoning, dialog system, user’s emotion recognition, and computer vision, based on large scale of ontologies. We also do two practical case studies: student friendly robots and teaching assistance robots in elementary school, and service robots for worker robot cooperation.”

[ CREST ] via [ DigInfo ]

Episode 3 of Moon Shot:

“Deepana Gandhi dreamed of a career in math/science, but she grew up in rural India where women aren’t typically afforded the same opportunities as men. After struggling to find a job, Deepana eventually landed at Indus in Bangalore, where she works on the equations necessary for navigating to the moon.”

[ Google Lunar XPRIZE ]

RI Seminar: Gita Reese Sukthankar on “Data-driven Social Informatics”:

“Data-driven social informatics unites models derived from social science with data-driven approaches in order to model and predict population behavior patterns. It can be used to advance our understanding of human behavior, guide public policy decisions, and improve user experience with both robots and software agents. In this talk, I’ll describe work from my lab in which we use a combination of agent-based modeling, machine learning, and crowdsourcing to model human social systems. The benefits of this approach will be illustrated using three case studies: 1) predicting the influence of social norms on smoking cessation behavior, 2) tracking campus parking usage using crowdsourcing and transportation modeling, 3) learning collaboration patterns from co-authorship networks. We believe that the combination of techniques yields a more nuanced view that relying on data alone.”

[ CMU RI Seminar ]

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