The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Japan's giant Gundam
Photo: Sotsu/Sunrise/Gundam Factory Yokohama

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!):

AWS Cloud Robotics Summit – August 18-19, 2020 – [Online 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
AUVSI EXPONENTIAL 2020 – October 5-8, 2020 – [Online Conference]
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nev., USA
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Co., USA

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

It’s coming together—literally! Japan’s giant Gundam appears nearly finished and ready for its first steps. In a recent video, Gundam Factory Yokohama, which is constructing the 18-meter-tall, 25-ton walking robot, provided an update on the project. The video shows the Gundam getting its head attached—after being blessed by Shinto priests. 

In the video update, they say the project is “steadily progressing” and further details will be announced around the end of September.

[ Gundam Factory Yokohama ]

Creating robots with emotional personalities will transform the usability of robots in the real-world. As previous emotive social robots are mostly based on statically stable robots whose mobility is limited, this work develops an animation to real-world pipeline that enables dynamic bipedal robots that can twist, wiggle, and walk to behave with emotions.

So that’s where Cassie’s eyes go.

[ Berkeley ]

Now that the DARPA SubT Cave Circuit is all virtual, here’s a good reminder of how it’ll work.

[ SubT ]

Since July 20, anyone 11+ years of age must wear a mask in closed public places in France. This measure also is highly recommended in many European, African and Persian Gulf countries. To support businesses and public places, SoftBank Robotics Europe unveils a new feature with Pepper: AI Face Mask Detection.

[ Softbank ]

University of Michigan researchers are developing new origami inspired methods for designing, fabricating and actuating micro-robots using heat.These improvements will expand the mechanical capabilities of the tiny bots, allowing them to fold into more complex shapes.

[ University of Michigan ]

Suzumori Endo Lab, Tokyo Tech has created various types of IPMC robots. Those robots are fabricated by novel 3D fabrication methods.

[ Suzimori Endo Lab ]

The most explode-y of drones manages not to explode this time.

[ SpaceX ]

At Amazon, we’re constantly innovating to support our employees, customers, and communities as effectively as possible. As our fulfillment and delivery teams have been hard at work supplying customers with items during the pandemic, Amazon’s robotics team has been working behind the scenes to re-engineer bots and processes to increase safety in our fulfillment centers.

While some folks are able to do their jobs at home with just a laptop and internet connection, it’s not that simple for other employees at Amazon, including those who spend their days building and testing robots. Some engineers have turned their homes into R&D labs to continue building these new technologies to better serve our customers and employees. Their creativity and resourcefulness to keep our important programs going is inspiring.

[ Amazon ]

Australian Army soldiers from 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) demonstrated the PD-100 Black Hornet Nano unmanned aircraft vehicle during a training exercise at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, on 4 May 2018.

This robot has been around for a long time—maybe 10 years or more? It makes you wonder what the next generation will look like, and if they can manage to make it even smaller.

[ FLIR ]

Event-based cameras are bio-inspired vision sensors whose pixels work independently from each other and respond asynchronously to brightness changes, with microsecond resolution. Their advantages make it possible to tackle challenging scenarios in robotics, such as high-speed and high dynamic range scenes. We present a solution to the problem of visual odometry from the data acquired by a stereo event-based camera rig.

[ Paper ] via [ HKUST ]

Emys can help keep kindergarteners sitting still for a long time, which is not small feat! 

[ Emys ]

Introducing the RoboMaster EP Core, an advanced educational robot that was built to take learning to the next level and provides an all-in-one solution for STEAM-based classrooms everywhere, offering AI and programming projects for students of all ages and experience levels.

[ DJI ]

This Dutch food company Heemskerk uses ABB robots to automate their order picking. Their new solution reduces the amount of time the fresh produce spends in the supply chain, extending its shelf life, minimizing wastage, and creating a more sustainable solution for the fresh food industry.

[ ABB ]

This week’s episode of Pass the Torque features NASA’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division (NExIS) Robotics Engineer, Zakiya Tomlinson.

[ NASA ]

Massachusetts has been challenging Silicon Valley as the robotics capital of the United States. They’re not winning, yet. But they’re catching up.

[ MassTech ]

San Francisco-based Formant is letting anyone remotely take its Spot robot for a walk. Watch The Robot Report editors, based in Boston, take Spot for a walk around Golden Gate Park.

You can apply for this experience through Formant at the link below.

[ Formant ] via [ TRR ]

Thanks Steve!

An Institute for Advanced Study Seminar on “Theoretical Machine Learning,” featuring Peter Stone from UT Austin.

For autonomous robots to operate in the open, dynamically changing world, they will need to be able to learn a robust set of skills from relatively little experience. This talk begins by introducing Grounded Simulation Learning as a way to bridge the so-called reality gap between simulators and the real world in order to enable transfer learning from simulation to a real robot. It then introduces two new algorithms for imitation learning from observation that enable a robot to mimic demonstrated skills from state-only trajectories, without any knowledge of the actions selected by the demonstrator. Connections to theoretical advances in off-policy reinforcement learning will be highlighted throughout.

[ IAS ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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