Video Friday: This Terrifying Robot Will Cut Your Hair With Scissors

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Engineer Shane Wighton of Stuff Made Here gets a haircut from his robot.
Engineer Shane Wighton of Stuff Made Here gets a haircut from his robot.
Image: Stuff Made Here via YouTube

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!):

CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece
ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado

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

The Aigency, which created the FitBot launch video below, is “the world’s first talent management resource for robotic personalities.”

Robots will be playing a bigger role in our lives in the future. By learning to speak their language and work with them now, we can make this future better for everybody. If you’re a creator that’s producing content to entertain and educate people, robots can be a part of that. And we can help you. Robotic actors can show up alongside the rest of your actors.

The folks at Aigency have put together a compilation reel of clips they’ve put on TikTok, which is nice of them, because some of us don’t know how to TikTok because we’re old and boring.

Do googly eyes violate the terms and conditions?

[ Aigency ]

Shane Wighton of the “Stuff Made Here” YouTube channel, who you might remember from that robotic basketball hoop, has a new invention: A haircut robot. This is not the the first barber bot, but previous designs typically used hair clippers. Shane wanted his robot to use scissors. Hilarious and terrifying at once.

[ Stuff Made Here ]

Starting in October of 2016, Prof. Charlie Kemp and Henry M. Clever invented a new kind of robot. They named the prototype NewRo. In March of 2017, Prof. Kemp filmed this video of Henry operating NewRo to perform a number of assistive tasks. While visiting the Bay Area for a AAAI Symposium workshop at Stanford, Prof. Kemp showed this video to a select group of people to get advice, including Dr. Aaron Edsinger. In August of 2017, Dr. Edsinger and Dr. Kemp founded Hello Robot Inc. to commercialize this patent pending assistive technology. Hello Robot Inc. licensed the intellectual property (IP) from Georgia Tech. After three years of stealthy effort, Hello Robot Inc. revealed Stretch, a new kind of robot!

[ Georgia Tech ]

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will make history's first attempt at powered flight on another planet next spring. It is riding with the agency's next mission to Mars (the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover) as it launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station later this summer. Perseverance, with Ingenuity attached to its belly, will land on Mars February 18, 2021.

[ JPL ]

For humans, it can be challenging to manipulate thin flexible objects like ropes, wires, or cables. But if these problems are hard for humans, they are nearly impossible for robots. As a cable slides between the fingers, its shape is constantly changing, and the robot’s fingers must be constantly sensing and adjusting the cable’s position and motion. A group of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and from the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering pursued the task from a different angle, in a manner that more closely mimics us humans. The team’s new system uses a pair of soft robotic grippers with high-resolution tactile sensors (and no added mechanical constraints) to successfully manipulate freely moving cables.

The team observed that it was difficult to pull the cable back when it reached the edge of the finger, because of the convex surface of the GelSight sensor. Therefore, they hope to improve the finger-sensor shape to enhance the overall performance. In the future, they plan to study more complex cable manipulation tasks such as cable routing and cable inserting through obstacles, and they want to eventually explore autonomous cable manipulation tasks in the auto industry.

[ MIT ]

Gripping robots typically have troubles grabbing transparent or shiny objects. A new technique by Carnegie Mellon University relies on color camera system and machine learning to recognize shapes based on color.

[ CMU ]

A new robotic prosthetic leg prototype offers a more natural, comfortable gait while also being quieter and more energy efficient than other designs. The key is the use of new small and powerful motors with fewer gears, borrowed from the space industry. This streamlined technology enables a free-swinging knee and regenerative braking, which charges the battery during use with energy that would typically be dissipated when the foot hits the ground. This feature enables the leg to more than double a typical prosthetic user's walking needs with one charge per day.

[ University of Michigan ]

Thanks Kate!

This year’s Wonder League teams have been put to the test not only with the challenges set forth by Wonder Workshop and Cartoon Network as they look to help the creek kids from Craig of the Creek solve the greatest mystery of all – the quest for the Lost Realm but due to forces outside their control. With a global pandemic displacing many teams from one another due to lockdowns and quarantines, these teams continued to push themselves to find new ways to work together, solve problems, communicate more effectively, and push themselves to complete a journey that they started and refused to give up on. We at Wonder Workshop are humbled and in awe of all these teams have accomplished.

[ Wonder Workshop ]

Thanks Nicole!

Meet Colin Creager, a mechanical engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center. Colin is focusing on developing tires that can be used on other worlds. These tires use coil springs made of a special shape memory alloy that will let rovers move across sharp jagged rocks or through soft sand on the Moon or Mars.

[ NASA ]

To be presented at IROS this year, “the first on robot collision detection system using low cost microphones.”

[ Rutgers ]

Robot and mechanism designs inspired by the art of Origami have the potential to generate compact, deployable, lightweight morphing structures, as seen in nature, for potential applications in search-and-rescue, aerospace systems, and medical devices. However, it is challenging to obtain actuation that is easily patternable, reversible, and made with a scalable manufacturing process for origami-inspired self-folding machines. In this work, we describe an approach to design reversible self-folding machines using liquid crystal elastomer (LCE), that contracts when heated, as an artificial muscle.

[ UCSD ]

Just in case you need some extra home entertainment, and you’d like cleaner floors at the same time.

[ iRobot ]

Sure, toss it from a drone. Or from orbit. Whatever, it’s squishy!

[ Squishy Robotics ]

The [virtual] RSS conference this week featured an excellent lineup of speakers and panels, and the best part about it being virtual is that you can watch them all at your leisure! Here’s what’s been posted so far:

[ RSS 2020 ]

Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar: Toward autonomous flying insect-sized robots: recent results in fabrication, design, power systems, control, and sensing with Sawyer Fuller.

[ UMD ]

In this episode of the AI Podcast, Lex interviews Sergey Levine.

[ AI Podcast ]

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