TF8 Actuator is designed to operate as either a knee or ankle powered prosthesis
MIT Media Lab researchers say the TF8 is one of the lightest, most powerful bionic knee and ankle platforms, designed to provide biologically equivalent power and range of motion to enable highly dynamic performance.
Image: Matt Carney/MIT Media Lab

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 – [Online 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, Colo., USA

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

Very impressive local obstacle avoidance at a fairly high speed on a small drone, both indoors and outdoors.

[ FAST Lab ]

Matt Carney writes:

My PhD at MIT Media Lab has been the design and build of a next generation powered prosthesis. The bionic ankle, named TF8, was designed to provide biologically equivalent power and range of motion for plantarflexion-dorsiflexion. This video shows the process of going from a blank sheet of paper to people walking on it. Shown are three different people wearing the robot. About a dozen people have since been able to test the hardware.

[ MIT ]

Thanks Matt!

Exciting changes are coming to the iRobot® Home App. Get ready for new personalized experiences, improved features, and an easy-to-use interface. The update is rolling out over the next few weeks!

[ iRobot ]

MOFLIN is an AI Pet created from a totally new concept. It possesses emotional capabilities that evolve like living animals. With its warm soft fur, cute sounds, and adorable movement, you’d want to love it forever. We took a nature inspired approach and developed a unique algorithm that allows MOFLIN to learn and grow by constantly using its interactions to determine patterns and evaluate its surroundings from its sensors. MOFLIN will choose from an infinite number of mobile and sound pattern combinations to respond and express its feelings. To put it in simple terms, it’s like you’re interacting with a living pet.

You lost me at “it’s like you’re interacting with a living pet.”

[ Kickstarter ] via [ Gizmodo ]

This video is only robotics-adjacent, but it has applications for robotic insects. With a high-speed tracking system, we can now follow insects as they jump and fly, and watch how clumsy (but effective) they are at it.

[ Paper ]

Thanks Sawyer!

Suzumori Endo Lab, Tokyo Tech has developed self-excited pneumatic actuators that can be integrally molded by a 3D printer. These actuators use the "automatic flow path switching mechanism" we have devised.

[ Suzimori Endo Lab ]

Quadrupeds are getting so much better at deciding where to step rather than just stepping where they like and trying not to fall over.

[ RSL ]

Omnidirectional micro aerial vehicles are a growing field of research, with demonstrated advantages for aerial interaction and uninhibited observation. While systems with complete pose omnidirectionality and high hover efficiency have been developed independently, a robust system that combines the two has not been demonstrated to date. This paper presents the design and optimal control of a novel omnidirectional vehicle that can exert a wrench in any orientation while maintaining efficient flight configurations.

[ ASL ]

The latest in smooth humanoid walking from Dr. Guero.

[ YouTube ]

Will robots replace humans one day? When it comes to space exploration, robots are our precursors, gathering data to prepare humans for deep space. ESA robotics engineer Martin Azkarate discusses some of the upcoming missions involving robots and the unique science they will perform in this episode of Meet the Experts.

[ ESA ]

The Multi-robot Systems Group at FEE-CTU in Prague is working on an autonomous drone that detects fires and the shoots an extinguisher capsule at them.

[ MRS ]

This experiment with HEAP (Hydraulic Excavator for Autonomous Purposes) demonstrates our latest research in on-site and mobile digital fabrication with found materials. The embankment prototype in natural granular material was achieved using state of the art design and construction processes in mapping, modelling, planning and control. The entire process of building the embankment was fully autonomous. An operator was only present in the cabin for safety purposes.

[ RSL ]

The Simulation, Systems Optimization and Robotics Group (SIM) of Technische Universität Darmstadt’s Department of Computer Science conducts research on cooperating autonomous mobile robots, biologically inspired robots and numerical optimization and control methods.

[ SIM ]

Starting January 1, 2021, your drone platform of choice may be severely limited by the European Union’s new drone regulations. In this short video, senseFly’s Brock Ryder explains what that means for drone programs and operators and where senseFly drones fit in the EU’s new regulatory framework.

[ SenseFly ]

Nearly every company across every industry is looking for new ways to minimize human contact, cut costs and address the labor crunch in repetitive and dangerous jobs. WSJ explores why many are looking to robots as the solution for all three.

[ WSJ ]

You’ll need to prepare yourself emotionally for this video on “Examining Users’ Attitude Towards Robot Punishment.”

[ ACM ]

In this episode of the AI Podcast, Lex interviews Russ Tedrake (MIT and TRI) about biped locomotion, the DRC, home robots, and more.

[ AI Podcast ]

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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