Video Friday: Droneboarding, RoboCoaster, and AI Video Competition

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Video Friday: Droneboarding, RoboCoaster, and AI Video Competition

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your AI-enhanced Automaton bloggers. We’ll be also posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

ASU Rehabilitation Robotics Workshop – February 8-9, 2016 – Tempe, Arizona, USA
The Future of Rescue Simulation Workshop – February 29-4, 2016 – Leiden, Netherlands
ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas Annual Meeting – March 3-4, 2016 – San Antonio, Texas, USA
HRI 2016 – March 7-10, 2016 – Christchurch, New Zealand
WeRobot 2016 – April 1-2, 2016 – Miami, Fla., USA
National Robotics Week – April 2-10, 2016 – United States
AISB HRI Symposium – April 5-6, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
Robotics in Education 2016 – April 14-15, 2016 – Vienna, Austria
International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal

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

Zoe McCarthy becomes a PR2 and goes on a destructive rampage:

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

[ UC Berkeley ]

A video went around last week of a kid in Russia being pulled along on a snowboard by a drone. The title of the vid is “first droneboarding,” and here it is in all its underwhelming glory:

Now, here’s a much more exciting video (using a much bigger quadrotor), also posted last week:

[ Aerones ] via [ Gizmodo ]

“EPFL scientists have invented a new soft gripper that uses electroadhesion: flexible electrode flaps that act like a thumb-index gripper. It can pick up fragile objects of arbitrary shape and stiffness, like an egg, a water balloon or paper.”

“The electrode flaps consist of 5 layers: a pre-stretched elastomer layer sandwiched between two layers of electrodes, plus two outer layers of silicone of different thickness. When the voltage is off, the difference in thickness of the outer layers makes the flaps curl outwards. When the voltage is on, the attraction between the two layers of electrodes straightens out the membranes. This straightening of the membranes from a curled position mimics muscle flexion. At the tips of the flaps, the electrodes of each layer are designed for optimal electrostatic grip. These interdigitated electrodes, which look like two combs fitted together, create an electrostatic field that causes electroadhesion.”

[ EPFL ]

I’d like to see one of them hoity toity DRC robots try this:

[ Rocking the Bongo Board: Humanoid Robotic Balancing on Dynamic Terrain ] via [ Snobots ]

Watch until the end of this video to see an especially creative (but perhaps not very effective) quadcopter path-replanning method:

Protip: including outtakes like these in your videos makes everybody love you.


I don’t care about buying clothes, but can someone write an app for Pepper that will cause it to just compliment me non-stop?

[ RobotsLab ]


I know it’s not new, but still, YESSSSSSSS!

[ Kuka Coaster ]

Did you ever want a glass of juice so bad that you were willing to spend 5 minutes using a robot gripper to get one?

Yeah, we’ve all been there.

[ SAKE Robotics ]

Thanks Paul!

Here’s a video of a test flight of NASA’s GL-10 “Greased Lightning” VTOL aircraft prototype. You can watch the video as-is, but it’s designed for a VR system like Google Cardboard. I tried it out on mine, and it’s actually pretty cool.

[ NASA ]

Who is this narrator. Seriously.

And if you’re curious about this “grapefruit dessert”:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Slice grapefruit in half. With a sharp knife cut along the individual segments of the exposed grapefruit halves. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey, agave, or maple syrup. Enjoy! 

[ UMD ]

This video demonstrates a robotic system for cleaning stains on flexible and fragile objects like a plastic manikin. The perception and planning modules are described. The ability of the system to replan and adapt to unexpected motions of the object is demonstrated.

If that inflatable torso gets tired of its job, I could use a good sponging. Just sayin’.

[ UMD ]

First, robot fish with sensors. Next, robot fish with weapons of mass fishstruction!

Er, taste buds?

[ MSU ]

The Appelix Worker Bee is a drone attached to a power tether that can spraypaint an infinitely large surface as long as you keep it well supplied:

We’re kind of wondering if CyPhy Works might have something to say about this, though.

[ Apellix ] via [ Medium ]

euRathlon 2015 Grand Challenge (land+sea+air) was held in Piombino,Italy, 17-25 September 2015. euRathlon is an outdoor robotics competition which invites teams to test the intelligence and autonomy of their robots in realistic mock emergency-response scenarios. Inspired by the 2011 Fukushima accident, the euRathlon competition requires a team of land, underwater and flying robots to work together to survey the scene, collect environmental data, and identify critical hazards.

[ euRathlon ]

Now you can drench your food in chemicals more efficiently than ever before! Thanks DJI!

[ DJI ]

If I spoke French, I could tell you all about this video featuring Thymio and a lonely, block-happy Swarmanoid, but I don’t, so I can’t.

[ Mobsya ]

Some impressive cooperative aerial construction from the ARCAS Project:


This is perilously close to a joint commercial for DJI and Ford, but there’s supposedly a developer challenge in there somewhere:

If you actually read the rules, the competition itself will be almost entirely unlike what’s shown in the video. Hit up the link below for details.

[ DJI Developer Challenge ]

NAVII is now helping customers and store employees at Yamada Denki Techland Aoba, so it’s got that going for it:

[ Fellow Robots ]

When you’d like to introduce a little bit of robotic terroir to your wine:

[ Robotnik ]

The video features the robots Copedo, Dynamped, and the igus Humanoid Open Platform of team NimbRo TeenSize as part of the qualification material for the RoboCup 2016 Competition in Leipzig, Germany. The robots have been developed in the Autonomous Intelligent Systems group of University of Bonn.

[ NimbRo ]

The videos for this year’s AAAI Video Competition have been posted online, and you can pick the one (or ones!) you like best and give it a like on YouTube. Whichever video gets the most likes will win the People’s Choice award, hooray! You can watch all of the videos here, but we’ve picked a handful of the most robot-y for you to check out right away, in alphabetical order:


Collaborative Navigation for Flying and Walking Robots

Developing an Intelligent Workshop Assistant

Finding Linda - A Search and Rescue Mission by SWARMIX

Quadcopter Navigation in the Forest using Deep Neural Networks

Robots That Can Adapt Like Animals

A Sea of Robots

[ AI Video Competition ]

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