Video Friday: Ingenuity’s 50th Flight

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

A small helicopter sits on the dusty, rocky surface of Mars

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
Humanoids 2023: 12–14 December 2023, AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA

Enjoy today’s videos!

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history when it achieved the first powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021. Since then, it has exceeded expectations and most recently executed its 50th flight on Mars. This video highlights Ingenuity’s flights, captured by the Perseverance Rover’s WATSON and Mastcam-Z cameras, as well as Ingenuity’s color Return to Earth (RTE) camera and its black-and-white navigation camera.

50 flights is 45 flights more than this little helicopter was designed for, which is bonkers. It has exceeded the expected cumulative flight time by 1,250 percent, and the expected distance flown by 2,214 percent. Wow.

[ JPL ]

Georgia Tech researchers have recently created a soft rotary motor using liquid metal, compliant magnetic composites, and silicone polymers. The motor can be squished and squeezed in all directions, which can one day improve the compatibility between humans and robots and extend the capability of soft robots. This soft motor is orders of magnitude faster and stronger than previously developed soft motors with a stall torque of 3 millinewton meters and a no-load speed of up to 4,000 rpm. This speed approaches the capability of traditional hard motors! To showcase this new technology, the soft motor is used in a variety of applications from squeeze-based speed control to fully soft underwater propulsion to hybrid water pumps to propelling a hybrid toy car. This demonstrates how the fully soft rotary electromagnetic actuator can bridge the gap between the capabilities of traditional hard motors and novel soft actuator concepts.

[ Paper ] via [ Sensing Technologies Laboratory ]

Thanks, Noah!

DARPA’s Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program recently conducted its third experiment to assess the performance of off-road uncrewed vehicles. These test runs, conducted 12–27 March, included the first with completely uninhabited RACER Fleet Vehicles (RFVs), with a safety operator overseeing in a supporting chase vehicle. The goal of the RACER program is to demonstrate autonomous movement of combat-scale vehicles in complex, mission-relevant off-road environments that are significantly more unpredictable than on-road conditions.

The multiple courses were in the challenging and unforgiving terrain of the Mojave Desert at the U.S. Army’s National Training Center (NTC) in Ft. Irwin, Calif. As at the previous events, teams from Carnegie Mellon University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Washington participated. Additionally, researchers from the Army Research Laboratory demonstrated the flexibility of the performer team’s autonomy software, critical to transitioning RACER capabilities to the services. This completed the project’s first phase.


Happy Easter from ANYbotics!

[ ANYbotics ]

Robots aren’t perfect, but neither are people! And 99 percent uptime over the duration of a four-day trade show is still impressive.

[ Agility Robotics ]

Watching a robot try to wipe up a spill really hammers home how much of an advantage humans still have when it comes to manipulation.

[ Google AI ]

Sanctuary AI is on a mission to create the world’s first humanlike intelligence in general-purpose robots that will help us work more safely, efficiently, and sustainably. Our general-purpose robots can be operated in three modes: directly piloted by people; operated by people using pilot-assist; and supervised by people while using the robot’s built-in autonomous control system to observe, assess, and act on tasks. This video explains the process and benefits of teleoperation mode when Sanctuary AI general-purpose robots are piloted by people.

[ Sanctuary AI ]

We’ve built our robotaxi from the ground up. To truly test it, we’ve had to break it apart. In the final episode of Putting Zoox to the Test, we explain how our robotaxi is designed to pass the most rigorous crash tests and summarize the process from pre-crash simulations to component-level tests and post-crash testing.

[ Zoox ]

More tails for robots!

[ Robomechanics Lab ]

I guess luxury leather bags need fatigue testing too.

[ qb robotics ]

Always cool to see different teleoperation interfaces.

[ Extend Robotics ]

There were some tests of how X20 dealt with adverse environments several years ago. Now these capabilities have been realized in real-world applications like the Hazard Rescue solution. There are more applications on their way. Eventually, they will help humans complete impossible missions with no risk.

[ Deep Robotics ]

Naver Labs is conducting joint research on “natural robot motion generation” with Professor Choi Sung-joon and his team at Korea University Robot Intelligence Lab. The research involves making various motions with Ambidex, which has humanlike joint structures, and testing people’s responses to the motions. It aims to find out when people think a robot’s motions look natural.

[ Naver Labs ]

This seminar is from Matt Zucker at Swarthmore College, on robotics education and research at a liberal arts college.

In this talk, I will describe the transition from a research-intensive Ph.D. to a position at a teaching-focused undergraduate institution in the context of my own career trajectory. Key topics include connections between robotics and the liberal arts, and guidelines for graduate students who are curious about pursuing teaching-focused faculty jobs.

[ UPenn ]

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