Video Friday: Insectobots on the Run, Drones Dodge Fireworks, and Robots Dance with Sheets

Yet another Friday has arrived. A Friday full of robot videos

3 min read
Video Friday: Insectobots on the Run, Drones Dodge Fireworks, and Robots Dance with Sheets

Yet another Friday has arrived. A Friday full of amazement. A Friday full of wonder. A Friday full of robot videos. Not that you should get your hopes up or anything. Aw heck, go on, get your hopes up, we will never disappoint you! Never! ON TO THE VIDEOS!

The biggest robot news of the week seemed to be this 3D printed phone password cracker. As a robot, it's not particularly impressive, but it seems to be at one of those intersections of concepts (robots! hacking! 3D printing!) that makes it irresistible:

Android's default lockscreen behavior is 30 seconds of wait every 5 wrong guesses. You can go through all 10000 PINs in about 20 hours. That would be boring, which is why we built the robot.

Via [ Forbes ]



Time for another round (or perhaps the very first round?) of Guess the Telepresence Robot!

Yes, that is totally a steampunkified Beam hanging out at Comic-Con in San Diego. It's a collaboration between Suitable Technologies and WETA, as a promotion for this, I think. I also think that Suitable should start making this an option on all of the Beams that it sells.

[ Suitable Technologies ]



Drones dodging fireworks is an excellent example of how you can take two things that are lots of fun and put them together to make something that is exponentially more fun:

Via [ Hacked Gadgets ]



The theme of robots not stealing our jobs and instead making manufacturing bigger and stronger is something we've been hearing lots about this year. Universal Robots has been working hard to make this happen as well, with their UR5 and UR10 robotic arms:

[ Universal Robots ]



Would you rather have a remote controlled car, or a 3D-printed remote controlled insectobot? Welcome to the easiest question you'll have to answer all day:

We've heard that the DASH Robotics Kickstarter will be firing up soon, and we can't wait to get our hands on one of these little guys.

[ DASH Robotics ]



For those of you who like their martinis shaken, not stirred, and very very very very large, OMC presents this 700-kilogram capacity multi-axis industrial cocktail shaker mixing robot:

Via [ DigInfo News ]



It's become obligatory that every week we feature footage from a drone that would be impossible to get any other way. Here's the latest one, filmed on the coast around Santa Cruz, Calif.

The best part of all that was obviously seeing those sea lions going "WTF is that," heh.

[ Eric Cheng ] via [ Gizmodo ]



I don't have a heck of a lot on this video (yet), but it shows some research from ETH Zurich and MIT into cooperative transport of deformable objects. The fact that the objects are deformable means that the robots carrying them can alter their trajectories and velocities independently (within limits), giving them more flexibility for things like obstacle avoidance, which, in the case of the demo video below, appears to be a rampaging Roomba:

[ ETH Zurich ]



We were promised an extended cut of that RHex parkour video from earlier this week, and here it is:

I'm loving that slow-mo jump across the picnic tables straight into the camera. Awesome stuff.

[ Kod*lab ]



This DARWIN's name is Jimmy. Jimmy Darwin. He's Canadian, and he's practicing for the ladder-climbing event at FIRA 2013 in Malaysia:

[ University of Manitoba ]



Just for fun, let's wrap up with a couple movie clips. This first one has NO ROBOTS IN IT:

Rumor has it that this scene, from the upcoming movie Gravity, is part of a 17-minute-long unbroken shot. How do you make that happen? With robots, man. With robots. And I'm pretty sure it's these robots.

[ Gravity ]


This second one DOES HAVE A ROBOT IN IT:

[iframe // allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=351 width=620]

[ Elysium ]

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

“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.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

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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