Video Friday: Quadruped Robot HyQ Learning the Ninja Walk

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
HyQ robot balancing on two legs
Photo: IIT

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!):

RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
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.

Four-legged HyQ balancing on two legs. Nice results from the team at IIT’s Dynamic Legged Systems Lab. And we can’t wait to see the “ninja walk,” currently shown in simulation, implemented with the real robot!

The development of balance controllers for legged robots with point feet remains a challenge when they have to traverse extremely constrained environments. We present a balance controller that has the potential to achieve line walking for quadruped robots. Our initial experiments show the 90-kg robot HyQ balancing on two feet and recovering from external pushes, as well as some changes in posture achieved without losing balance.

[ IIT ]

Thanks Victor!

Ava Robotics’ telepresence robot has been beheaded by MIT, and it now sports a coronavirus-destroying UV array.

UV-C light has proven to be effective at killing viruses and bacteria on surfaces and aerosols, but it’s unsafe for humans to be exposed. Fortunately, Ava’s telepresence robot doesn’t require any human supervision. Instead of the telepresence top, the team subbed in a UV-C array for disinfecting surfaces. Specifically, the array uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms and disrupt their DNA in a process called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. The complete robot system is capable of mapping the space — in this case, GBFB’s warehouse — and navigating between waypoints and other specified areas. In testing the system, the team used a UV-C dosimeter, which confirmed that the robot was delivering the expected dosage of UV-C light predicted by the model.

[ MIT ]

While it’s hard enough to get quadrupedal robots to walk in complex environments, this work from the Robotic Systems Lab at ETH Zurich shows some impressive whole body planning that allows ANYmal to squeeze its body through small or weirdly shaped spaces.

[ RSL ]

Engineering researchers at North Carolina State University and Temple University have developed soft robots inspired by jellyfish that can outswim their real-life counterparts. More practically, the new jellyfish-bots highlight a technique that uses pre-stressed polymers to make soft robots more powerful.

The researchers also used the technique to make a fast-moving robot that resembles a larval insect curling its body, then jumping forward as it quickly releases its stored energy. Lastly, the researchers created a three-pronged gripping robot – with a twist. Most grippers hang open when “relaxed,” and require energy to hold on to their cargo as it is lifted and moved from point A to point B. But this claw’s default position is clenched shut. Energy is required to open the grippers, but once they’re in position, the grippers return to their “resting” mode – holding their cargo tight.

[ NC State ]

As control skills increase, we are more and more impressed by what a Cassie bipedal robot can do. Those who have been following our channel, know that we always show the limitations of our work. So while there is still much to do, you gotta like the direction things are going. Later this year, you will see this controller integrated with our real-time planner and perception system. Autonomy with agility! Watch out for us!

[ University of Michigan ]

GITAI’s S1 arm is a little less exciting than their humanoid torso, but it looks like this one might actually be going to the ISS next year.

Here’s how the humanoid would handle a similar task:

[ GITAI ]

Thanks Fan!

If you need a robot that can lift 250 kg at 10 m/s across a workspace of a thousand cubic meters, here’s your answer.

[ Fraunhofer ]

Penn engineers with funding from the National Science Foundation, have nanocardboard plates able to levitate when bright light is shone on them. This fleet of tiny aircraft could someday explore the skies of other worlds, including Mars. The thinner atmosphere there would give the flyers a boost, enabling them to carry payloads ten times as massive as they are, making them an efficient, light-weight alternative to the Mars helicopter.

[ UPenn ]

Erin Sparks, assistant professor in Plant and Soil Sciences, dreamed of a robot she could use in her research. A perfect partnership was formed when Adam Stager, then a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, reached out about a robot he had a gut feeling might be useful in agriculture. The pair moved forward with their research with corn at the UD Farm, using the robot to capture dynamic phenotyping information of brace roots over time.

[ Sparks Lab ]

This is a video about robot spy turtles but OMG that bird drone landing gear.

[ PBS ]

If you have a DJI Mavic, you now have something new to worry about.

[ DroGone ]

I was able to spot just one single person in the warehouse footage in this video.

[ Berkshire Grey ]

Flyability has partnered with the ROBINS Project to help fill gaps in the technology used in ship inspections. Watch this video to learn more about the ROBINS project and how Flyability’s drones for confined spaces are helping make inspections on ships safer, cheaper, and more efficient.

[ Flyability ]

In this video, a mission of the Alpha Aerial Scout of Team CERBERUS during the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit event is presented. The Alpha Robot operates inside the Satsop Abandoned Power Plant and performs autonomous exploration. This deployment took place during the 3rd field trial of team CERBERUS during the Urban Circuit event of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge.

[ ARL ]

More excellent talks from the remote Legged Robots ICRA workshop- we’ve posted three here, but there are several other good talks this week as well.

[ ICRA 2020 Legged Robots Workshop ]

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
LightGreen

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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