Audi factory collaborative robot
Image: Slightly Overdone Robots via Vimeo

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!):

AUVSI Xponential – May 8-11, 2017 – Dallas, Texas, USA
AAMAS 2017 – May 8-12, 2017 – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Austech – May 9-12, 2017 – Melbourne, Australia
Innorobo – May 16-18, 2017 – Paris, France
Midwest Robotics Workshop – May 18-19, 2017 – Chicago, IL, USA
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 22-26, 2017 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
IEEE ICRA – May 29-3, 2017 – Singapore
University Rover Challenge – June 1-13, 2017 – Hanksville, Utah, USA
IEEE World Haptics – June 6-9, 2017 – Munich, Germany
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

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

This is Walt, Audi's new collaborative robot. Isn’t it cute and wiggly?

As part of a Flemish research project lead by prof. An Jacobs (BruBotics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) the Audi Brussels factory introduced its very first collaborative robot, an MRK Systeme cobot. The focus of the research project, which was led by sociologists, was to create a more natural human-robot collaboration and to make the workers willing to collaborate with the robot.

[ ClaXon ] via [ Slightly Overdone ]

Thanks Lennert!

Augmented Reality for Kilobots (ARK) is a system that makes Kilobots more useful by allowing them to physically react to virtual features:

As you've probably guessed, this research will be presented at IROS 2017, but you can get a peek at the paper at the website below.

[ University of Sheffield ]

DARPA is interested in swarm technologies, and luckily for them, drones have advanced to the point where it's possible to do some really interesting stuff with software on physical robots without having to worry about the hardware. One of the greatest things about DARPA is how they encourage progress through challenges and competitions, and the Service Academies Swarm Challenge Live-Fly Competition gave three U.S. military service academies an enormous pile of quadrotor and fixed-wing drones, some airspace, and games to play:

Here's how the games worked:

The United States Naval Academy bested West Point and the U.S. Air Force to win. My advice? Next time, add lasers and FPV cameras.

[ Facebook ] via [ DARPA ]

Happy birthday (and congratulations!) to ROS-Industrial, which is now 5!

[ ROS-I ]

That clever robotic airbag system is the winner of the Kuka Innovation Award 2017:

And here are the other finalists:

[ Kuka Innovation Award ]

After watching this video, I'm not sure whether Engineered Arts would be the best place to work, or the worst:

Fun fact: thrown oranges are a universal e-stop for robots.

[ Engineered Arts ]

Thanks Michael!

This video shows IHMC's exoskeleton progress, from 2010 to 2016, concluding with their second place finish in the Cybathlon.

As jaded as I sometimes get on robotics, this sort of thing never fails to be awesome.

[ IHMC ]

If you were at the University of Texas at Arlington for National Robotics Week, you've seen this all already. For everyone else, here's what you missed:

Good to see there's still a PR2 out there rockin' fist bump explode.


I want ALL of these TurtleBot 3s. ALL OF THEM!

[ TurtleBot 3 ]

If you work at Kuka, I guess this is what your life is like?

[ Kuka ]

Waste sorting: It's important, it's dirty, it's a job for robots.

[ ZenRobotics ]

It might be a bit of a stretch to call this a robot, but it looks like it would be fun to have around during the summer:

[ Howe & Howe ]

WeRobotics’ first Business Incubation program is organized at Nepal Flying Labs in early 2017. Starting with an “Ideation” phase in January, Nepal Flying Labs and our partners motivated young engineers throughout the country to brainstorm on how they can build their own business using drones creating new services. 37 teams put in ideas and we invited 19 teams with the most feasible ideas to pitch them at an official pitching day. The jury elected the 4 finalist teams with the most promising ideas.

[ WeRobotics ]

Keenan Wyrobek, Zipline's head of engineering, gave a talk at CITRIS at UC Berkeley all about medical drone delivery in Rwanda. He shares a bunch of interesting anecdotes, and some fun videos we'd never see before, so it's definitely worth a watch if you're in favor of delivery drones that are actually useful.

For more on Zipline, make sure to check out our recent article.

[ Zipline ]

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

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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