Video Friday: Japan's Space Humanoid, Robot Golfer, and Most Destructive Bot Ever

Time to stop working and spend the rest of your day watching robot videos

3 min read
Video Friday: Japan's Space Humanoid, Robot Golfer, and Most Destructive Bot Ever

Space. The Final Frontier. These are (or will be) the voyages of a star-shipped robot. Its mission of some unspecified duration: to chat up the astronauts:

"Russia was the first to go outer space, the U.S. was the first to go to the moon, we want Japan to be the first to send a robot-astronaut to space that can communicate with humans."

Quick! Somebody give Robonaut a working mouth! 

Japan's Kirobo spacebot performs on video, and piles more robots performing on video: welcome to Video Friday, humans.



There are already quite a few robots on the International Space Station (namely, Robonaut and a bunch of SPHEREs), but later this year, a little humanoid from Japan will be joining the team:

Kirobo is not that big and not that strong, but since everything is weightless up there, he should end up just as capable as Robonaut, right?

[ KIBO ROBO Project ]



SparkFun's 2013 Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC) looks like it was a huge success, and an equally huge amount of fun. It's amazing what is now possible with DIY autonomous UAVs and UGVs:

[ SparkFun AVC ]



I am not a golfer. I have trouble taking the game seriously when you have such gigantic courses for such a tiny ball. This is what it takes to get me to watch golf:



The 2013 RoboCup competition is underway right now, and Tech United is on the ball with video of some amazing Middleweight competition:

[ Tech United ]

[ RoboCup 2013 ]



Here's an update on AUVSI's Student Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS) 2013 competition:




I'm not sure how much smaller you can get than a robot that's made out of DNA. Why is it a robot? It can be programmed to deliver a payload to a specific cell:

[ Harvard ]



Another older video that's still worth a revisit are Harvard's TERMES termite-inspired robots:

[ Harvard ]



There's a reason this robot is called Last Rites:

Personally, I'd like to see Last Rites fight Blendo. From behind several layers of plexiglass.

[ Hardcore Robotics ] via [ Laughing Squid ]



For the record, here is the wrong way to go about poking a humanoid robot with a stick:

[ CMU ]



Project Thunderball. This is just awesome.

The goal here is to recreate the portion of the movie "Thunderball" Where Sean Connery as 007 uses a Jetpack to escape the men chasing him. To achieve this, a super-size quad-copter had to be created to deal with the weight of a mannequin (in this case a very special 2.2lb one). This custom copter is based on the multiwii open source project. It can hover for 8 minutes delivering 1KW+ to the 4 motors. A floating brick in the sky, when not pulling mannequins, it can deliver pizza or 6-packs. There is work to do, the 3D mag heading calibration needs adjustment. Sean needs a face and helmet. Also a decorative jetpack will complete the look. Altitude regulation is not handled well by a barometer, so sonar will be added to the control loop.

Via [ Hackaday ]



Firefighting is one of those dangerous tasks that robots have the potential to be very effective at. As long as you can keep them from accidentally spraying you with water, of course:

[ Purdue ]



How about we end the week with another big fat robot documentary from NHK: "Will Machines Surpass Humans?" Protip: whenever a question is asked in a title, the answer is almost always "of course not." But it's worth watching anyway!

Via [ Robots Dreams ]



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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