Video Friday: Craziest Robot Head, Sphero Tricks, and Autonomous Vehicle Competition

We've stayed up extra late to pack today's Video Friday extra full of videos

3 min read
Video Friday: Craziest Robot Head, Sphero Tricks, and Autonomous Vehicle Competition
The expressive Emys robot head.
Image: Wroclaw University of Technology

The downside of skipping a Video Friday like we did last week is that you didn't get a Video Friday last week. The upside of skipping a Video Friday like we did last week is that this week, we've stayed up extra wicked super late to pack today's Video Friday extra full of videos. LET'S GO!

Apparently there's some sort of sportsball rally going on right now that is generating some excitement among humans. We have no idea what it is, except that Brazil is apparently really bad at it. What we are excited for is happening in Brazil later this month: RoboCup 2014. Here's a preview from TechUnited Eindhoven:

[ RoboCup 2014 ]



There's a new Emys head!

I'm not entirely sure what the new specs are, but it's more seamless, with touch sensing, and those cartoony exploding eyeballs. Priceless.

[ FLASH Project ]



What's Sphero been up to lately? Stuff like this:

[ GoSphero ]



ETH Zurich hosted the 2014 Dynamic Walking Conference last month, and here's a taste of some of the, you know, dynamic walking that went on over there.

[ Dynamic Walking 2014 ]



Baxter at the University of Colorado, helps the Correll Lab research the manipulation of flexible objects with funding from NASA in order to determine the ability of growing food in space.

[ Correll Lab ]



We've written a bunch about robots and vision systems from the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory, but if you haven't been keeping up, here's a summary of what they do:

[ Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory ]



Clearpath Robotics is moving into a GIANT NEW HEADQUARTERS, and the official ribbon-cutter was a PR2 named Jake, which was teleoperated with a Kinect and Oculus Rift while wielding a sharp implement:

This video was pre-smoothing, and you can read all about how Clearpath made it work at the link below.

[ Clearpath Robotics ]

Thanks Ilia!



"The truck of the future is a Mercedes-Benz that drives itself." Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, the member of Daimler's Board of Management responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, came straight to the point in his description of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, which had its world premiere. The truck is equipped with the extremely intelligent Highway Pilot assistance system, which enables it to drive completely autonomously at speeds of up to 85 km/h. Daimler Trucks demonstrated the vehicle on a trip along a section of the A14 autobahn near the city of Magdeburg, in which the Future Truck drove itself in completely realistic driving situations.

This is cool and all, by why does it have to be the truck of the future? Why not the truck of the present, hmm?

[ Daimler ]



And why not cars of the present? I'm tired of demos! LET ME BUY ONE ALREADY!

Hyundai Motor Company HQ insists that you DO NOT attempt any of the stunts seen in the film. The systems are not substitutes for safe driving, they are only meant to assist drivers for their safety and convenience.




This is adooooorable:

[ Thymio II ]



The video demonstrates an imitation learning approach for a dynamic fluid pouring task. Our approach allows learning from errors made by humans and how they recovered from these errors subsequently. We collect both successful and failed human demonstrations of the task. Our algorithm combines a support vector machine based classifier and iterative search to generate initial task parameters for the robot. Next, a refinement algorithm, capturing how demonstrators change parameters to transition from failure to success, enables the robot to address failures. Experimental results with a Baxter robot illustrate our approach.

[ UMD Robotics ]



Hmm, we haven't had any UAVs yet, have we?

[ Team Blacksheep ]



Here's something nuts:

Scientists and engineers at BAE Systems have lifted the lid on some futuristic technologies that could be incorporated in military and civil aircraft of 2040 or even earlier.
Smaller unmanned aircraft or UAVs are created by super high-tech on-board 3D printers, via Additive Layer Manufacturing and robotic assembly techniques. The 3D printers respond to data fed to them by a remote control room where a human commander decides what should be produced.
The UAVs are best suited to each scenario be it a group of wide-winged aircraft for protracted or enduring surveillance or rotary-winged UAVs to rescue single civilians or soldiers from dangerous situations. After use the UAVs could render themselves useless through dissolving circuit boards or they might safely land in a recoverable position if re-use was required.
This creates the ultimate adaptable taskforce, with a lead aircraft able to enter any unknown scenario and quickly manufacture an effective toolset for any task.

BAE, you crazy. I like the way you think.

[ BAE Systems ]



What better way to end a Video Friday than with an awesome recap of SparkFun's 2014 Autonomous Vehicle Competition. WOO!

[ SparkFun AVC ]

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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