The June 2024 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Video Friday: Extra Robot Arms, Anti-Drone Drone, and Adorable TurtleBots

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.

Extra Pair of Robot Arms
Here's that extra pair of robot arms you've always wanted. And how do you control them? With your feet.
Photo: Embodied Media Project/Keio University

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!):

NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online
ICCV 2017 – June 13-16, 2017 – Venice, Italy
RoboBoat 2017 – June 20-20, 2017 – Daytona Beach, Fl., USA
Aerial Robotics International Research Symposium – June 21-22, 2017 – Toronto, ON, Canada
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 25-28, 2017 – London, England
Autonomous Systems World – June 26-27, 2017 – Berlin, Germany
RoboUniverse Seoul – June 28-30, 2017 – Seoul, Korea
RobotCraft 2017 – July 3-3, 2017 – Coimbra, Portugal
ICAR 2017 – July 10-12, 2017 – Hong Kong
RSS 2017 – July 12-16, 2017 – Cambridge, Mass., USA
MARSS – July 17-21, 2017 – Montreal, Canada
Summer School on Soft Manipulation – July 17-21, 2017 – Lake Chiemsee, Germany
Living Machines Conference – July 25-28, 2017 – Stanford, Calif., USA
RoboCup 2017 – July 27-31, 2017 – Nagoya, Japan

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

We’ve written about extra robot arms for humans in the past, but these are more complicated and perhaps capable than most:

I’m not completely sold on the control system here, since it essentially means you’re trading the use of your legs for the use of some extra arms. Maybe good in certain situations, but not as a general cybernetic enhancement.

Keio University ]

If this isn’t enough reason to get a RoboThespian, I don’t know what is:

RoboThespian ]

Thanks Michael!

Adooorable TurtleBot 3s <3

ROBOTIS was running this demo at ICRA as well; the first TurtleBot is using its laser for person-detection and following, while the other TurtleBots are wirelessly following the first.

TurtleBot3 ]

An electric bug zapper is a highly effective way of dealing with mosquitoes on an individual basis, but if you’re dealing with thousands upon thousands of Zika-carrying Aedes mosquitoes, you’ll need something bigger, and deadlier. Like a drone carrying a massive electrically charged zapping screen that you can fly over large areas and kill mosquitoes in bulk! Unless you’re interested in trajectory optimization, you can stop the video after the first minute:

If you are in fact interested in trajectory optimization and made it through the entire video, the abstract is on YouTube at the link below.

[ YouTube ] via [ Aaron Becker ]

The Reconfigurable Robotics Lab presents Mori, a modular origami robot. Mori is the first example of a robot that combines the concepts behind both origami robots and reconfigurable, modular robots. Origami robotics utilises folding of thin structures to produce single robots that can change their shape, while modular robotics uses large numbers of individual entities to reconfigure the overall shape and address diverse tasks. Origami robots are compact and light-weight but have functional restrictions related to the size and shape of the sheet and how many folds can be created. In contrast, modular robots are more flexible when it comes to shape and configuration, but they are generally bulky and complex.

Mori, an origami robot that is modular, merges the benefits of these two approaches and eliminates some of their drawbacks. The presented prototype has the quasi-2D profile of an origami robot (meaning that it is very thin) and the flexibility of a modular robot. By developing a small and symmetrical coupling mechanism with a rotating pivot that provides actuation, each module can be attached to another in any formation. Once connected, the modules can fold up into any desirable shape.


Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Our program goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in ways no other education program can. Cross-platform apps are approachable for all skill levels, allowing us to reach as many minds as possible. Think outside the bot and inspire your future. This is Sphero Edu.

[ Sphero Edu ]

In case you’d forgotten, Crabster CR6000 is the crabbiest robot that ever crabbed its way through Crabville:


An autonomous anti-drone drone, for when you need less drone up in your drone:


I’m pretty sure that at 4 meters in height, this is the largest bipedal walking robot I have ever seen:

[ Hajime Research Institute ]

Hinamitetu’s latest and greatest is a floor gymnast robot that can manage four back handsprings in a row:

Someone give this guy an Olympic medal already.

[ YouTube ]

NVIDIA researchers developed a drone that navigates without GPS and instead relies on deep learning and computer vision. Here, it flies along a forest trail, avoiding obstacles and maintaining a steady position in the center of the trail.


I somehow did not know that Tiny Whoop quadrotors were a thing, but they look like a huge amount of tiny fun:

The tiny quads themselves are under $200, although you’ll need a FPV setup to get the most out of them.

[ Tiny Whoop ] via [ TBS ]

UT’s Human Centered Robotics Lab has been running some painful-looking simulations on Valkyrie:

We’d all like to see this tried on the actual robot, I think.


New robot swarm control games! Also helps with very important research, but more importantly, NEW GAMES!

[ Swarm Control ] via [ Aaron Becker ]

Due to the nature of the environments the robots have to operate in, achieving full automation in the healthcare industry, is incredibly complex. In order to accelerate the deployment of robots in hospitals and homes, HIT is therefore working on the near-term implementation of semi-autonomous robots. To be classed as semi-autonomous, robots have to be aware of their capabilities and, in particular, of the actions they’re not able to perform without assistance. When autonomous capabilities fall short, the robot would need to inform an operator located at a global control centre. It is envisioned that in such a control centre, multiple operators could be monitoring and assisting hundreds of robots all around the world.

In order to work towards this goal, an early prototype of TIAGo was shipped to the Netherlands, where a team of HIT engineers have been developing a cockpit interface to remotely control the robot online, from anywhere in the world. The recent addition of a screen and microphone to the prototype will enable an operator to communicate with patients at the remote location. Because TIAGo is equipped with a force/torque sensor on its wrist, the forces that are encountered upon interaction with the remote environment can be presented to the operator through a joystick that is able to display forces. In this way, the operator can actually feel what he is doing, which is incredibly useful when performing tasks that require contact with the environment.

[ PAL Robotics ]

Fetch Robotics is one of the hottest robotics intern tickets around, mostly because they offer free snacks and weekly badminton. This could be you!

Akshay Kashyap was our first full stack intern at Fetch Robotics last summer. He created an entirely new front end and vastly improved back end for our LogPRO platform. Robots are complex systems comprising numerous mechanical, electrical and software components and LogPRO is used to provide real-time alerts when any operating metric goes out of the normal range.

[ Fetch Robotics ]

WeRobotics has been working hard to help practical drone startups in places like Tanzania and Nepal. Here are some updates:

[ WeRobotics ]

The Conversation (0)