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!):

ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
AUVSI EXPONENTIAL 2020 – October 5-8, 2020 – [Online Conference]
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nev., USA
CYBATHLON 2020 – November 13-14, 2020 – [Online Event]
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colo., USA

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

Clearpath Robotics and Boston Dynamics were obviously destined to partner up with Spot, because Spot 100 percent stole its color scheme from Clearpath, which has a monopoly on yellow and black robots. But seriously, the news here is that thanks to Clearpath, Spot now works seamlessly with ROS.

[ Clearpath Robotics ]

A new video created by Swisscom Ventures highlights a research expedition sponsored by Moncler to explore the deepest ice caves in the world using Flyability’s Elios drone. [...] The expedition was sponsored by apparel company Moncler and took place over two weeks in 2018 on the Greenland ice sheet, the second largest body of ice in the world after Antarctica. Research focused on an area about 80 kilometers east of Kangerlussuaq, where scientists wanted to study the movement of water deep underground to better understand the effects of climate change on the melting ice.

[ Flyability ]

Shane Wighton of the “Stuff Made Here” YouTube channel, whose terrifying haircut machine we featured a few months ago, has improved on his robotic basketball hoop. It’s actually more than an improvement: It’s a complete redesign that nearly drove Wighton insane. But the result is pretty cool. It’s fun to watch him building a highly complicated system while always seeking simple and elegant designs for its components.

Stuff Made Here ]

SpaceX rockets are really just giant, explosion-powered drones that go into space sometimes. So let's watch more videos of them! This one is sped up, and puts a flight into just a couple of minutes.

[ SpaceX ]

Neato Robotics makes some solid autonomous vacuums, and these incremental upgrades feature improved battery life and better air filters.

[ Neato Robotics ]

A full-scale engineering model of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover now resides in a garage facing the Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

This vehicle system test bed rover (VSTB) is also known as OPTIMISM, which stands for Operational Perseverance Twin for Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars. OPTIMISM was built in a warehouselike assembly room near the Mars Yard – an area that simulates the Red Planet's rocky surface. The rover helps the mission test hardware and software before it’s transmitted to the real rover on Mars. OPTIMISM will share the space with the Curiosity rover's twin MAGGIE.

[ JPL ]

Heavy asset industries like shipping, oil and gas, and manufacturing are grounded in repetitive tasks like locating items on large industrial sites -- a tedious task that can take as long 45 minutes to find critical items like a forklift in an area that spans the size of multiple football fields. Not only is this work boring, it’s dangerous and inefficient. Robots like Spot, however, love this sort of work.

Spot can provide real-time updates on the location of assets and complete other mundane tasks. In this case, Spot is using software from Cognite to roam the vast shipyard to locate and manage more than 100,000 assets stored across the facility. What used to take humans hours can be managed on an ongoing basis by Spot -- leaving employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

[ Cognite ]

The KNEXT Barista system helps high volume premium coffee providers who want to offer artisan coffee specialities in consistent quality.

[ Kuka ]

In this paper, we study this idea of generality in the locomotion domain. We develop a learning framework that can learn sophisticated locomotion behavior for a wide spectrum of legged robots, such as bipeds, tripeds, quadrupeds and hexapods, including wheeled variants. Our learning framework relies on a data-efficient, off-policy multi-task RL algorithm and a small set of reward functions that are semantically identical across robots.

[ DeepMind ]

Thanks Dave!

Even though it seems like the real risk of COVID is catching it from another person, robotics companies are doing what they can with UVC disinfecting systems.

[ BlueBotics ]

Aeditive develop robotic 3D printing solutions for the production of concrete components. At the heart of their production plant are two large robots that cooperate to manufacture the component. The automation technology they build on is a robotic shotcrete process. During this process, they apply concrete layer by layer and thus manufacture complete components. This means that their customers no longer dependent on formwork, which is expensive and time-consuming to create. Instead, their customers can manufacture components directly on a steel pallet without these moulds.

[ Aeditive ]

Something BIG is coming next month from Robotiq!

My guess: an elephant.

[ Robotiq ]

TurtleBot3 is a great little home robot, as long as you have a TurtleBot3-sized home.

[ Robotis ]

How do you calculate the coordinated movements of two robot arms so they can accurately guide a highly flexible tool? ETH researchers have integrated all aspects of the optimisation calculations into an algorithm. The hot-​wire cutter will be used, among other things, to develop building blocks for a mortar-​free structure.

[ ETH Zurich ]

And now, this.

[ RobotStart ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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