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Video Friday: Shape-Changing Interface, Robot Pro-Wrestling, and 3D-Printed Humanoid

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

6 min read
Robot playing soccer.
Image: NimbRo/University of Bonn

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’re also going to start posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

SF Bay Area Robotics Group Meetup – November 18, 2015 – San Francisco, Calif., USA
ROBOT 2015 - Iberian Robotics Conference – November 19-21, 2015 – Lisbon, Portugal
Robotics Expo – November 20-22, 2015 – Moscow, Russia
100 Years of Robot Art and Science in the Bay Area – November 20, 2015 – San Francisco, Calif., USA
World Robotics Conference 2015 – November 23-25, 2015 – Beijing, China
Dronetech – November 26, 2015 – Bristol, U.K.
IREX 2015 – December 2-5, 2015 – Toyko, Japan
RoboUniverse Shanghai – December 8-10, 2015 – Shanghai, China
RoboUniverse San Diego – December 14-16, 2015 – San Diego, Calif., USA
ASU Rehabilitation Robotics Workshop – February 8-9, 2016 – Tempe, Arizona, USA
HRI 2016 – March 7-10, 2016 – Christchurch, New Zealand
WeRobot 2016 – April 1-2, 2016 – Miami, Fla., USA
National Robotics Week – April 2-10, 2016 – United States
Portugese Robotics Open – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Advanced Robotics Systems and Competitions – May 06, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France

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

This is probably the coolest thing you’ll see all week:

“LineFORM is a novel Shape Changing Interface which has the form of a ‘Line’. Lines have several interesting characteristics from the perspective of interaction design: abstractness of data representation; a variety of inherent interactions / affordances; and constraints as boundaries or borderlines. By utilising such aspects of lines together with the added capability of shape-shifting, we present various applications in different scenarios such as shape changing cords, mobiles, body constraints, and data manipulation to investigate the design space of line-based shape changing interfaces.”

[ MIT ] via [ Engadget ]

Can you do this? I can’t do this.

But then, I can’t even touch my toes, so... Yeah.

[ iCub ]

From the mad genius who brought us the breakfast robot comes this alarm clock robot, which is waaay more destructive. 

Watch the full (and NSFW) video on her YouTube channel.

[ YouTube ]

This robot is designed to “work in disaster scenarios like collapsed or contaminated buildings,” but if you have kids, you know this kind of capability could also be useful in your living room.

[ H2T KIT ]

“This video presents an extension of the research conducted by A Patel and C Fisher in the area of bio-inspired, aerial orientation techniques for robotic platforms. Inspired by the kangaroo rat, and how it uses its tail to aerially orientate itself in the yaw plane, this project presents a robot capable of using a tail to perform a 360-degree yaw rotation stunt. The system was dynamically modelled using the Lagrange method, and subsequently simulations were performed to ensure optimal robot design. A control system was design for the robot, which exhibited robust, high levels of performance – achieving the stunt repeatedly in approximately 0.4 s. This video documents the system’s performance in both in testing and on a jump. This research was conducted by J Perry and A Patel.”

Inspired by the kangaroo rat, you say? That gives us an excuse to post some video of one of our favorite creatures ever. I’m talking about a gopher snake, but there’s a kangaroo rat in there too.

[ UCT ]

It’s a robot, it’s fast, and it’s 80 percent 3D printed. What’s not to like?

[ Stratasys ] via [ CAFE Foundation ]

From Nimbro at the University of Bonn:

“The video introduces the child-sized 3D printed igus Humanoid Open Platform robot. It shows human-robot interaction, balance on one foot, walking, kickig, getting up, and the computer vision for soccer.”

Igus won the first RoboCup design award at RoboCup 2015 in China. Hooray!

[ Nimbro ]

“From early childhood, when a person picks up an object using their hands they use haptic feedback to automatically adjust the force of their grip according to the object they are lifting. A completely different grip is required when holding a soft piece of fruit and a glass ornament – both very delicate in their own ways – and your body will automatically adjust to the appropriate grip by sensing small shear movements and exploiting the natural compliance of your fingers in the soft, fleshy pads of your finger tips to do so. Equipping robotic grippers with this level of compliance and versatility has long been a problem, but in a paper published in Advanced Materials, a team from LMTS and LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics propose a solution that has been used to pick up diverse objects including a raw chicken egg, a water balloon and a flat piece of paper with a simple control input.”

We should definitely point out that Grabit, a spinoff of SRI, has been making (and selling) electroadhesive grippers for a few years now:

[ EPFL ]

At DLR, they have the thing that my parents didn’t love me enough to send me to, except for robots: Space Camp! The description is in German for some reason that we can’t begin to understand, but here’s the Google translated version:

“Ten Space Robotics teams from all over Germany to beat on 13 November 2015 the studio theme park in North Rhine-Westphalia Huerth their camp. They want to show what's in their systems. Over the course of a year, they have developed their Rover, with whom one of the most demanding scenarios of space to be simulated - exploring an alien planet.

For this is not enough, a set of wheels from alone. To fulfill their mission tasks when Spacebot Camp, the robots have to find in a difficult terrain objects, identify and transport to eventually assemble into a complete system - and as autonomous as possible.

Your creativity are no limits. So they should meet challenges such as the increase in the degree of autonomy, a robust navigation, flexible interaction and adaptation to changing operating conditions.”

The videos are in German, too. Sheesh.


The PAL Robotics PMB-2 is “the Mobile Base you need to build your robotic solutions,” at least according to the people who want to sell you one. It’s modular, open source (powered by ROS), and can handle payloads of up to 50 kilograms.

PAL Robotics was also at IROS, and while we didn’t manage to get them into our videos from the expo, they’ve helpfully supplied one of their own, featuring TIAGo and PMB2:

[ PAL Robotics ]

From Pieter Abbeel’s lab at UC Berkeley comes this research from Igor Mordatch on using neural networks to let robots teach themselves how to stand:

Quartz has a nice article on this, which you can read at the link below.

[ UC Berkeley ] via [ Quartz ]

Robotiq would like to convince you that automating your business with robots is not as hard as you probably think it is:

[ Robotiq ]


Biped Robot News ]

“In Episode 6 of Robots in Depth, Andra Keay talks to our host Per Sjöborg about how her organization Silicon Valley Robotics was formed and what they do. One example of networking events they organize is the annual Robot Block Party. Andra also shares her views on the areas of robotics where we will see significant developments in the near future. Further, Andra and Per discuss how developments in for example agricultural robotics can feed improvements in other industries, including home robots.”

[ Robots in Depth ]

In part 2 of the Disruptive: Bioinspired Robotics episode, Wyss Founding Core Faculty Member Robert Wood discusses new manufacturing techniques that are enabling popup and soft robots.

Wood is developing biologically inspired aerial and terrestrial microrobots, soft-bodied robots, and “printable” robots. His current research interests include new micro- and meso-scale manufacturing techniques, fluid mechanics of low-Reynolds-number flapping wings, control of sensor-limited and computation-limited systems, active soft materials, and morphable soft-bodied robots. He leads a team of over 40 researchers on the National Science Foundation (NSF) “RoboBees” project to develop coordinated colonies of autonomous robotic bees.

His group is also building agile ambulatory robots that are inspired by insects and centipedes. The long-term goal is to create a swarm of robotic insects capable of performing important tasks, such as search and rescue, hazardous environmental explorations, and pollination.

[ Wyss Disruptive Podcast ]

To finish the week, we’re delighted to report that all of the ROSCon presentation videos have been posted! We’ve picked a handful to highlight here, but you can access all of the videos from this page or the link below.

Brian Gerkey (OSRF) – Opening Remarks

Mark Shuttleworth (Canonical) – Commercial models for the robot generation

Dirk Thomas (OSRF), Esteve Fernandez (OSRF), William Woodall (OSRF) – State of ROS 2

Amit Moran (Intel), Gila Kamhi (Intel) – Introducing ROS-RealSense: 3D empowered Robotics Innovation Platform

Michael Aeberhard (BMW Group Research and Technology), Thomas Kühbeck (BMW Group Research and Technology), Bernhard Seidl (BMW Group Research and Technology) – Automated Driving with ROS at BMW

[ ROSCon 2015 ]

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