We just finished putting together our preliminary calendar for the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), which kicks off less than a month from now in Chicago. As per usual, we have several hundred robotics papers that we want to check out, but at least this time, we'll have a TEAM there to tackle them all. And the format of IROS this year will be a bit different, with lightning-style preview talks accompanied by massive interactive sessions instead of the traditional powerpoint talks. It's gonna be awesome. But we're not there yet, so first, videos.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continues to spread around the world. In Tokyo, several Pepper robots help dump water on Softbank executive Kaname Hayashi, while in Paris, Nao robots cheer as Aldebaran Robotics CEO Bruno Maisonnier gets soaked.
With its ERWR project ("Extend the Reach of the Warfighter Through Robotics"), Lockheed Martin wants to demonstrate how an autonomous K-Max helicopter can autonomously deliver an autonomous ground vehicle that then autonomously does autonomous stuff autonomously. And did we mention it's all autonomous?
The Lockheed Martin Squad Mission Support System Unmanned Ground Vehicle equipped with a Gyrocam 9-inch mid-wave, surveillance sensor was flown by sling load into the “hostile” area using a Lockheed Martin K-MAX unmanned helicopter, and a tactical resupply and surveillance mission was conducted in autonomous and tele-operated modes.
[ Lockheed Martin ]
The title of this video is "The Legend of the Drunken Robot." Well played, UT Human Centered Robotics Lab, well played.
This research is sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research. Hume uses its series elastic actuated legs to remain balanced while walking. It achieves this capability by observing the center of mass position error relative to a reference path and re-planning at every step a new reference trajectory to minimize the error. We use phase space planning techniques to plan the center of mass trajectories and foot placement. Thus, our approach is based on continuous re-planning. By planning the path of the next step based on the observed initial error, we can find the proper landing location of each step. Relying on the prismatic inverted pendulum model instead of the linear inverted pendulum model we also enable non-planar center of mass motion, which will be essential later on for rough terrain locomotion.
[ UT Austin ]
We've written a bit about "spy creatures" before, mostly in the context ofusing them to film animals that you don't want to be too close to film them yourself. But there are more of them! Robot penguins, turtles, and tuna, all with spy cameras inside:
Via [ Gizmodo ]
Here is a video showing, in simulation, some things that I would DESPERATELY like to see Boston Dynamics' Atlas humanoid do in real life:
[ MIT ]
"Impossible for humans. Effortless for automatic control." This could be anything robot-related, but in this case, it's referring to the ability to pilot six quadrotors in time with music:
You can read about how Angela Schoellig, Federico Augugliaro, and Raffaello D'Andrea made all this work in the December 2013 issue of IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, or read the paper online here.
[ ETH Zurich ]
To prove that UCAVs are ready for primetime, the U.S. Navy has been conducting carrier trials with the X-47B operating alongside manned F-18 Hornets:
[ Navy ]
Our favorite videos of Baxter are the ones where we get to see it in factories, successfully doing the sort of work that it was designed to do:
Also, if you're wondering how much blur and lens flare it takes to make Baxter look dramatic, this video has the answer:
[ Rethink Robotics ]
While we're on about Baxter, I don't think it comes standard out of the box with Razer Hydra control or Oculus Rift support. Or the shirt that you'll see in this video from the UMass Lowell Robotics Lab. But all of these things are way cool.
[ UML ]
Here's a follow-up with more detail on those robots that you can use to explore the Tate Britain museum in London after dark:
[ Tate ]
What is the future of robotics? Here are some very smart people saying some interesting things about it, for only four minutes, at Automatica 2014:
[ ECHORD++ ]
UAVs don't need to be flying all the time. It's kind of a problem if they are, because of the whole running-out-of-batteries thing. If you only need the A part of a UAV sometimes, and the rest of the time it can stay on the G, combing a UAV with a UGV is a great idea, as long as they're capable of working together effectively. Landings are the tricky bit, but roboticists from the University of Waterloo seem to have it figured out:
We're not usually fans of robot movies (because they're pretty bad, with rare exceptions), but to wrap the week let's take a look at the first trailer of Automata, an upcoming sci-fi thriller with Antonio Banderas. It seems at least a little bit interesting and potentially decent:
Automata is an epic futuristic vision of a human civilization finally overtaken by artificial intelligence, as the Earth’s ecosystem verges on collapse. It tracks an insurance agent for robotics corp. ROC, who investigates a seemingly routine case of robot manipulation.
Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation, routinely investigates the case of manipulating a robot. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.
Via [ io9 ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.