Video Friday: Dronut

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
A close up picture of a small black drone which is round and flies with two internal ducted fans

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. 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 2022 – May 23-27, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA, USA

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

We first met Cleo Robotics at CES 2017, when they were showing off a consumer prototype of their unique ducted-fan drone. They've just announced a new version which has been beefed up to do surveillance, and it is actually called the Dronut.

For such a little thing, the 12 minute flight time is not the worst, and hopefully it'll find a unique niche that'll help Cleo move back towards the consumer market, because I want one.

[ Cleo ]

Happy tenth birthday, Thymio!

[ EPFL ]

Here we describe a protective strategy for winged drones that mitigates the added weight and drag by means of increased lift generation and stall delay at high angles of attack. The proposed structure is inspired by the wing system found in beetles and consists of adding an additional set of retractable wings, named elytra, which can rapidly encapsulate the main folding wings when protection is needed.

[ EPFL ]

This is some very, very impressive robust behavior on ANYmal, part of Joonho Lee's master's thesis at ETH Zurich.

[ ETH Zurich ]

NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today that it has developed a blade-free, blimp-type drone equipped with a high-resolution video camera that captures high-quality video and full-color LED lights glow in radiant colors.

[ NTT Docomo ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Senior Software Engineer Daniel Piedrahita explains the theory behind robust dynamic stability and how Agility engineers used it to develop an unique and cohesive hardware and software solution that allows Digit to navigate unpredictable terrain with ease.

[ Agility ]

The title of thie video from DeepRobotics is "DOOMSDAY COMING." Best not to think about it, probably.

[ DeepRobotics ]

More Baymax!

[ Disney ]

At Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, they're trying to figure out how to make a COVID-19 officer robot authoritative enough that people will actually pay attention to it and do what it says.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Andy!

You'd think that high voltage powerlines would be the last thing you'd want a drone to futz with, but here we are.

[ GRVC ]

Cassie Blue navigates around furniture treated as obstacles in the atrium of the Ford Robotics Building at the University of Michigan.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

Northrop Grumman and its partners AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Michelin are designing a new vehicle that will greatly expand and enhance human and robotic exploration of the Moon, and ultimately, Mars.

[ Northrop Grumman ]

This letter proposes a novel design for a coaxial hexarotor (Y6) with a tilting mechanism that can morph midair while in a hover, changing the flight stage from a horizontal to a vertical orientation, and vice versa, thus allowing wall-perching and wall-climbing maneuvers.


Honda and Black & Veatch have successfully tested the prototype Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) at a construction site in New Mexico. During the month-long field test, the second-generation, fully-electric Honda AWV performed a range of functions at a large-scale solar energy construction project, including towing activities and transporting construction materials, water, and other supplies to pre-set destinations within the work site.

[ Honda ]

This could very well be the highest speed multiplier I've ever seen in a robotics video.


Here's an interesting design for a manipulator that can do in-hand manipulation with a minimum of fuss, from the Yale Grablab.

[ Paper ]

That ugo robot that's just a ball with eyes on a stick is one of my favorite robots ever, because it's so unapologetically just a ball on a stick.

[ ugo ]

Robot, make me a sandwich. And then make me a bunch more sandwiches.

[ Soft Robotics ]

Refilling water bottles isn't a very complex task, but having a robot do it means that humans don't have to.

[ Fraunhofer ]

To help manufacturers find cost effective and sustainable alternatives to single -use plastic, ABB Robotics is collaborating with Zume, a global provider of innovative compostable packaging solutions. We will integrate and install up to 2000 robots at Zume customer's sites worldwide over the next five years to automate the innovative manufacturing production of 100 percent compostable packaging molded from sustainably harvested plant-based material for products from food and groceries to cosmetics and consumer goods.

[ ABB ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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