Entertainment robot Mesmer by Engineered Arts
Image: Engineered Arts

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!):

HRI 2021 – March 8-11, 2021 – [Online Conference]
RoboSoft 2021 – April 12-16, 2021 – [Online Conference]
ICRA 2021 – May 30-5, 2021 – Xi'an, China

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

Engineered Arts' latest Mesmer entertainment robot is Cleo. It sings, gesticulates, and even does impressions. 

[ Engineered Arts ]

I do not know what this thing is or what it's saying but Panasonic is going to be selling them and I will pay WHATEVER. IT. COSTS.

Slightly worrisome is that Google Translate persistently thinks that part of the description involves "sleeping and flatulence."

[ Panasonic ] via [ RobotStart ]

Spot Enterprise is here to help you safely ignore every alarm that goes off at work while you're snug at home in your jammies drinking cocoa.

That Spot needs a bath.

If you missed the launch event (with more on the arm), check it out here:

[ Boston Dynamics ]

PHASA-35, a 35m wingspan solar-electric aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight in Australia, February 2020. Designed to operate unmanned in the stratosphere, above the weather and conventional air traffic, PHASA-35 offers a persistent and affordable alternative to satellites combined with the flexibility of an aircraft, which could be used for a range of valuable applications including forest fire detection and maritime surveillance.

[ BAE Systems ]

As part of the Army Research Lab’s (ARL) Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA), we are developing new planning and control algorithms for quadrupedal robots. The goal of our project is to equip the robot LLAMA, developed by NASA JPL, with the skills it needs to move at operational tempo over difficult terrain to keep up with a human squad. This requires innovative perception, planning, and control techniques to make the robot both precise in execution for navigating technical obstacles and robust enough to reject disturbances and recover from unknown errors.

[ IHMC ]

Watch what happens to this drone when it tries to install a bird diverter on a high voltage power line:

[ GRVC ]

Soldiers navigate a wide variety of terrains to successfully complete their missions. As human/agent teaming and artificial intelligence advance, the same flexibility will be required of robots to maneuver across diverse terrain and become effective combat teammates.

[ Army ]

The goal of the GRIFFIN project is to create something similar to sort of robotic bird, which almost certainly won't look like this concept rendering.

While I think this research is great, at what point is it in fact easier to just, you know, train an actual bird?

[ GRIFFIN ]

Paul Newman narrates this video from two decades ago, which is a pretty neat trick.

[ Oxford Robotics Institute ]

The first step towards a LEGO-based robotic McMuffin creator is cracking and separating eggs.

[ Astonishing Studios ] via [ BB ]

Some interesting soft robotics projects at the University of Southern Denmark.

[ SDU ]

Chong Liu introduces Creature_02, his final presentation for Hod Lipson's Robotics Studio course at Columbia.

[ Chong Liu ]

The world needs more robot blimps.

[ Lab INIT Robots ]

Finishing its duty early, the KR CYBERTECH nano uses this time to play basketball.

[ Kuka ]

senseFly has a new aerial surveying drone that they call "affordable," although they don't say what the price is.

[ senseFly ]

In summer 2020 participated several science teams of the ETH Zurich at the "Art Safiental" in the mountains of Graubunden. After the scientists packed their hiking gear and their robots, their only mission was "over hill and dale to the summit". How difficult will it be to reach the summit with a legged robot and an exosceletton? What's the relation of synesthetic dance and robotic? How will the hikers react to these projects?

[ Rienerschnitzel Films ]

Thanks Robert!

Karen Liu: How robots perceive the physical world. A specialist in computer animation expounds upon her rapidly evolving specialty, known as physics-based simulation, and how it is helping robots become more physically aware of the world around them.

[ Stanford ]

This week's UPenn GRASP On Robotics seminar is by Maria Chiara Carrozza from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, on "Biorobotics for Personal Assistance – Translational Research and Opportunities for Human-Centered Developments."

The seminar will focus on the opportunities and challenges offered by the digital transformation of healthcare which was accelerated in the COVID-19 Pandemia. In this framework rehabilitation and social robotics can play a fundamental role as enabling technologies for providing innovative therapies and services to patients even at home or in remote environments.

[ UPenn ]

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
LightGreen

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

"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.

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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