Video Friday: Drone Refueling

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
MQ-25 refueling
Photo: Boeing

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!):

RoboCup 2021 – June 22-28, 2021 – [Online Event]
RSS 2021 – July 12-16, 2021 – [Online Event]
Humanoids 2020 – July 19-21, 2021 – [Online Event]
RO-MAN 2021 – August 8-12, 2021 – [Online Event]
DARPA SubT Finals – September 21-23, 2021 – Louisville, KY, USA
WeRobot 2021 – September 23-25, 2021 – Coral Gables, FL, USA
IROS 2021 – September 27-1, 2021 – [Online Event]
ROSCon 2021 – October 21-23, 2021 – New Orleans, LA, USA

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

The MQ-25 T1 test asset has flown into the history books as the first unmanned aircraft to ever refuel another aircraft—piloted or autonomous—during flight.

[ Boeing ]

WomBot is an exploratory robot for monitoring wombat burrows, and the press release for it included this rather disappointing video of WomBot discovering a wombat in its burrow.

Apparently that’s what the butt of a dirt-covered wombat looks like. Here is a much more exciting video of an entirely different wombat burrow exploring robot where you get the wombat payoff that you deserve:

[ Paper ]

During the dark of night, using LiDAR for eyes, Cassie Blue is operating fully autonomously on the University of Michigan Wave Field. The terrain is challenging and was not pre-mapped.

For more on what they've been up to over at the University of Michigan, here’s a talk from them at the ICRA 2021 Workshop on Legged Robots.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

Thanks, Jessy!

The new Genesis LiveDrive LDD 1800 Series is a new high-torque direct-drive actuator. No gearbox!

[ Genesis ]

This Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS) from DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program may look like it shot out a net and missed, but it was actually firing a bunch of sticky streamers that tangle up motors and whatnot. Festive and crashy!

[ Genesis ]

Learn about this year’s Kuka Innovation Award from some of the teams and judges, some of whom need a haircut more badly than others.

[ KUKA ]

20th Century Studios and Locksmith Animation’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device, which is supposed to be his “Best Friend out of the Box.”

For a robot unboxing, that’s actually pretty good. Like, it arrives with a charged battery!

[ EW ]

The robot will serve you now! And it will do so without making a huge mess, thanks to folks from the University of Naples Federico II in Italy.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Mario!

Over the past year ABB has committed to supporting diversity and inclusion amongst all of our team members, partners and suppliers. To kick off our celebration of Pride Month, Yumi put on the pride flag to show ABB’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

[ ABB ]

How it’s made: surgical masks.

[ Genik ]

Meet Hera, our very own asteroid detective. Together with two CubeSats—Milani the rock decoder and Juventas the radar visionary—Hera is off on an adventure to explore Didymos, a double asteroid system that is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to planet Earth.

[ ESA ]

The goal of the EU-funded project ADIR was to demonstrate the feasibility of a key technology for next generation urban mining. Specifically, the project investigated the automated disassembly of electronic equipment to separate and recover valuable materials.

[ ADIR ]

NASA’s Resilient Autonomy activity is developing autonomous software for potential use in aircraft ranging from general aviation retrofit to future autonomous aircraft. This simulator footage shows iGCAS, or improved GCAS, save a small aircraft from diving into a canyon, into the side of a mountain, or into the ground.

[ NASA ]

Mess with the Cocobo security robot at your peril.

[ Impress ]

I thought the whole point of growing rice in flooded fields was that you avoided weed problems, but I guess there are enough semi-aquatic weeds that it can be handy to have a little robot boat that drives around stirring up mud to surpress weed growth.

[ Robotstart ]

We present experimental work on traversing steep, granular slopes with the dynamically walking quadrupedal robot SpaceBok. We validate static and dynamic locomotion with two different foot types (point foot and passive-adaptive planar foot) on Mars analog slopes of up to 25°(the maximum of the testbed).

[ Paper ]

You'll have to suffer through a little bit of German for this one, but you'll be rewarded with a pretty slick flying wing at the end.

[ BFW ]

Thanks, Fan!

Have you ever wondered whether the individual success metrics prevalent in robotics create perverse incentives that harm the long-term needs of the field? Or if the development of high-stakes autonomous systems warrants taking significant risks with real-world deployment to accelerate progress? Are the standards for experimental validation insufficient to ensure that published robotics methods work in the real world? We have all the answers!

[ Robotics Debates ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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