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Video Friday: Expressive Robot, Luke Arm, and Cyborg Moth

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Emys robot head
Image: FLASH Robotics

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!):

RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online

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

FLASH Robotics has recently previewed its new EMYS robot head. The popping-out eyes are gone in this version, which aims to be more kid friendly, but it remains one of the weirdest looking and most expressive robot heads we’ve ever seen:

[ FLASH Robotics ]

Assembly through self-disassembly.

This video is part of the DARS 2016 paper, “Programmable Self-Disassembly for Shape Formation in Large-Scale Robot Collectives,” by Melvin Gauci, Radhika Nagpal, and Michael Rubenstein. The little robots are Kilobots.

[ Self-Organizing Systems Research Lab ]

If this is real, it's really cool. If this is CGI, it's really cool.

Watch the video, do your research, then tell us what you think below.

Vitaly Bulgarov ] via [ NextBigFuture ]

We featured Russian android Fedor on Video Friday last October. This new video, from Russian news agency TASS, has some additional footage, and starting at 2:00 you can see how the teleoperation system works.

Russia's Foundation for Advanced Studies (DRF) ]

It looks like Robotis and OSRF are making progress with the TurtleBot 3 overall design. Here’s one model using an Intel Joule compute board.

[ Robotis ]

We've been following the DARPA Revolutionizing Prosthetics program for nearly a decade. It’s great seeing this latest version of the “LUKE arm,” though a lot of challenges remain, especially cost, until lots of people can benefit from such advanced prosthetics.


A robot developed by EPFL students was able to compete against human players with average skills in table football. The next step will be to program the robot with some strategy and organise a competition among robots.

[ EPFL ]

Cyborg moth. CYBORG MOTH!

[ Science Magazine ] via [ Gizmodo ]

REEM-C's whole body control is getting slinky:

Also, how long can you hold a handshake with a robot before it gets super awkward?

[ PAL Robotics ]

As self-driving cars hit the road, autonomous boats are entering Amsterdam’s canals. The ‘roboat’ project — a research collaboration between MIT and AMS, the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions — seeks to design and test the world's first fleet of autonomous boats in the city of Amsterdam. Each water-based unit ( a ‘roboat’ ) can be used for transporting goods and people and for creating temporary floating infrastructures, such as self-assembling bridges and concert stages. Roboats can also monitor the city's waters using new environmental sensors that provide vital insights on urban and human health. With over 1,000 kilometers of canals, 1,500 bridges and a long-standing focus on urban innovation, the city of Amsterdam is an ideal place to test new, water-based mobility solutions. Roboat’s findings will provide insights for many coastal cities; they will also contribute to the growing field of autonomous mobility, as it moves from roads to waterways.

[ Roboat Project ] via [ MIT News ]

This is not the first drone to tow a person, or lift a person, or anything like that. But this video is almost certainly the most publicized one, so it's got that going for it.

YouTube ]

Thanks Travis!

Suzumori Endo Lab at Tokyo Institute of Technology in collaboration with A2Lab, UTM has developed a lightweight and slim Giacometti Walking Robot. The robot has 0.94 m height, 1.67 m width, 1.5 m length and 3.7 kg weight. The development of Hexapod Giacometti Robot has a simple structural design using soft and thin soft actuator and CFRP material. The motivation of this work is to make the robot safe to work with the operator. The damage to the robot and the surroundings would be very small if an accident occurs. We hope for more exploration on big and safety robots in the future robotics.

[ Suzumori Endo Lab ]

Anki would like to remind you that Cozmo comes with a cool SDK:

Anki would also like to remind you that Cozmo is so popular that it's probably going to be quite a while before you can get one.

Cozmo ]

When Swiss watchmakers invented the Geneva drive, a two-geared mechanism that produces precise ticks forward, they probably never imagined that bioengineers would one day craft a 15-millimeter version out of squishy hydrogel. But then, they weren’t trying to make a biocompatible micromachine that could be implanted in the body to deliver doses of drugs.

Science Robotics ] via [ The Human OS ]

To forecast debris flow in case of a volcanic eruption, our research group made field experiments of robotic technologies in Unzen-Fugen-dake, Nov. 2016. The first experiment was a soil-sampling. The UAV and soil-sampling device returned less than 100g soil. The second experiment was a simple permeability survey with a UAV and a suspended device. It cannot act an actual permeability measurement, but a tendency of permeability can be observed by popping a water balloon. The last experiment was to retracted UGV by UAV’s capturing net. All experiments were conducted in the construction area of Unzen-Fugen-dake, and the sampling device worked in an actual restricted area.

[ Tohoku University ]

Ubtech has given its Alpha humanoid an Alexa-powered brain implant.

Ubtech ]

We are in 2032. A meteorite has damaged an important Martian power station and we need to assess the damage and restart the main generator. We have 16 robots on site. Each robot can be controlled by a team of engineers and space experts from Earth. Between Mars and Earth there is a delay in video transmission (between 3 minutes when Mars is closest and 21 minutes when Mars is farthest from Earth in its orbit) and direct remote control is impossible. Therefore the Earth experts need to program the robots to solve the task. We recruited 16 teams of experts from Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy, Russia and South Africa.

[ Thymio R2T2 ]

A TED talk by Sabine Hauert from the University of Bristol in the U.K. on “Dehyping Robotics.”

[ TEDxBerlin ] via [ Robohub ]

Lastly, another TED talk, this one by Kevin Kelly on “How AI can bring on a second Industrial Revolution.”

[ TED ]

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