Video Friday: This Robot Wants to Talk to You

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Erica, an android created by Hiroshi Ishiguro
Erica, an android created by Hiroshi Ishiguro and his team at Osaka University and ATR.
Image: Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project 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!):

ICRA 2020 – June 01, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia
ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece
ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado

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

After building a collection of increasingly more lifelike humanoid robots, including Erica and IbukiProfessor Hiroshi Ishiguro is now focusing on making them better at interacting with people. His ultimate goal remains the same since he started building androids: He wants to create robots that can coexist with us humans. To achieve that, Ishiguro and his team at Osaka University and ATR are working to improve the conversation skills, facial expressions, and body language of their robots, hoping that those abilities will one day become indistinguishable from our own. As Ishiguro puts it, “We hope that by creating such complex robots, we can explore human communication in a deeper way, and see how human we can make the robots.”

Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project ]

Rocos is a robotics company based in New Zealand, and they have a Spot that’s trying to solve the biggest crisis that country has: sheep.

Don’t believe me that New Zealand needs robots for sheep protection? Watch this documentary.

But seriously—it’s good to see Spot being used in contexts where its unique mobility is an asset, although I wonder what those real dogs think.

[ Rocos ]

The Chiba Zoo in Japan is closed right now, but a mobile telepresence from ZMP robot helped people visit remotely, and it was ADORABLE!

[ ZMP ] via [ RobotStart ]

I need this.

The video shows a robot teddy bear that uses an improved Bayesian Interaction Primitives approach to learn how to hug a person. Given a small number of examples, the robot can learn to generalize to different interaction partners in space and time.

[ ASU ]

Dash Robotics is launching a new online simulation tool so that students who (for the moment) don’t have direct access to a physical robot can still keep learning how to program.

Dash’s Neighborhood is designed to integrate into the existing programming tools and curriculum currently in use at over 25,000 schools in the U.S., and it’s free to all teachers through June 2020.

[ Wonder Workshop ]

Thanks, Nicole!

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover lives up to its name by enduring a series of tests to prepare for its journey to the Red Planet.

[ Mars 2020 ]

Remember those little inside-out popper thingies you had as a kid? They’re soft jumping robots now!

[ Harvard Wyss Institute ]

Roboticists at the University of California, San Diego have developed an affordable, easy to use system to track the location of flexible surgical robots inside the human body. The system performs as well as current state of the art methods, but is much less expensive. Many current methods also require exposure to radiation, while this system does not.

[ UCSD ]

Thanks, Ioana!

(Video runs at 4X the actual speed) A demonstration of GE’s bio-inspired giant earthworm-like tunneling robot. The robot is shown digging through dirt in a test apparatus set up in the Robotics Lab at GE Research in Niskayuna, N.Y.

Mimicking the rhythmic movements of earthworms moving through soil and force of tree roots growing into the ground, this bio-inspired soft robot design developed by GE researchers could enable faster, more efficient ways to dig underground tunnels.

The development of this tunneling robot is part of a 15- month, $2.5 MM project through DARPA’s Underminer program to develop faster, more efficient ways to dig tunnels in support of critical military operations. The new capabilities under development could enable a multitude of robotic applications, ranging from non-destructive inspection and repair of industrial infrastructure pipe inspection to supporting wireless infrastructure construction.

[ GE Research ]

Who cares about cleaning under things when you have a Roomba that looks like this?

[ YouTube ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Need to drop a robot from a drone? No problem, if it’s squishy.

[ Squishy Robotics ]

It’s a great time to be a coffee shop with a robot barista!

It’s not very fast and it can’t do complex drinks, but it’s also not going to sneeze all over your brew.

[ The Oregonian ]

Thanks Dad!

How can we provide assistance or care to people with infectious diseases or in quarantine? This video shows the ways in which our robot Rollin’ Justin can be operated to act as an avatar for friends, relatives or professional carers to assist people with restricted mobility, helping them to live safely and independently.

[ DLR ]

The presentation provides an overview of the development of a medical robot for examining potentially infected patients amid the COVID-19 epidemic. The robot was developed by Tsinghua University in Feb. 2020, when the epidemic was at its peak intensity in China. The robot is capable of both autonomous and remotely-controlled operations, therefore reduces the risk of exposure for medical workers. Prof. Gangtie Zheng, Ph.D., conducted this research with his team of graduate students.

[ R4ID ]

Somaesthetics - motivated by improving life quality via appreciation for bodily and sensory experiences - is increasingly influencing HCI designs. Investigating the potential of drones as a material for somaesthetic HCI, we designed Drone Chi: a Tai Chi-inspired close-range human-drone interaction experience.

[ Paper ] via [ Exertion Games Lab ]

Get to know some of the diverse team of engineers and scientists working on NASA’s next Mars rover, Perseverance. NASA-JPL engineer Heather Bottom was once a professional dancer in New York City. Join our conversation to find out how she’s now preparing to send the Perseverance rover to the surface of the Red Planet.

[ Mars 2020 ]

In this 2014 video, Chad Jenkins talks about how he got into robotics and reminds us just how adorable PR2 is.

[ World Science Festival ]

On this episode of the AI Podcast, Lex Fridman interviews Sertac Karaman.

[ AI Podcast ]

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