Video Friday: Knife-Edge Maneuvering, Adopt a Husky Robot, and the X-37B Is Back

Watch a little robotic airplane from MIT weave its way through a fake forest, and much much more

2 min read
Video Friday: Knife-Edge Maneuvering, Adopt a Husky Robot, and the X-37B Is Back

Next week, Automaton will be heading to Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. to check out some robots and not take any vacation time at all. We'll be posting as normal (or trying to), but if you've got any red hot East Coast robot tips, definitely let us know

Meanwhile, the highlight of this week's Video Friday comes from MIT, where they're teaching UAVs to slalom through obstacles like birds can. It's all about navigation in cluttered environments, and you'll have to see it to believe it.

So yeah, it looks like MIT's Robot Locomotion Group just started up its own YouTube channel, and there's already a few cool vids up there, featuring robots like LittleDog and the Phoenix ornithopter. But this vid, entitled "Fast and Accurate Knife-Edge Maneuvers for Autonomous Aircraft," is brand new and totally amazing:

Now, there isn't much in the way of additional info here beyond what's discussed in the video, but we'll see what we can dig up, and get back to you.

[ MIT Robot Locomotion ]


How about another vid that doesn't have much in the way of explanation to go along with it? Sure! This one's from the Robotics Innovation Center at DFKI Bremen:

The little magnet guy looks a lot like a robot from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel that we covered back in 2010, but the cool thing that DFKI seems to be doing here is localizing the robot using a portable 3D positioning system that operates with a calibrated camera on the ground and a reflector on the robot, kinda like a portable mini-Vicon thing.

[ DFKI Bremen ]


Okay, here's a video that we know TONS about. It's Clearpath Robotics' Husky A200, and the reason that we're including it today is that you can win one! Woohoo!

By "win," we mean that you can apply for Clearpath's PartnerBot Research Grant, which is worth one Husky customized for your research to the tune of $25,000. You need to have a project ready to go (and funded), but what Clearpath is trying to do is to make it easy for worthy research to surmount the hardware barrier: no matter how good of an idea that you have, buying a robot to test that idea out on is hugely expensive, but a free custom Husky neatly takes care of that. The only caveats are that you have to publish your work, the development framework has to be ROS, and your resulting code must be released to the community. The application deadline is August 1, and all the details are at the link below.

[ Clearpath Robotics ]


After 469 days in space doing nobody knows what, Boeing's cute little robotic space plane, the X-37B, landed in California earlier this week.


Speaking of space, here's some video of a tethered flight test of NASA's Morpheus robotic lander. No real news here (this is test #17 and counting), but watching rockets firing just never seems to get old.

[ Morpheus ]


Finally today, we've got a video of a robot doing what robots do best: tasks that involve a lot of repetitive strength and precision. In this case, it's Opton's T-WIN20 KDM bending pipes:

Yours for $194,000.

Via [ DigInfo ]

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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