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Video Friday: Motorcycle Robot, Paper Plane Drone, and R2-D2 Fridge

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

6 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Video Friday: Motorcycle Robot, Paper Plane Drone, and R2-D2 Fridge
Photo: Yamaha

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!):

Humanoids 2015 – November 3-5, 2015 – Seoul, Korea
2015 Robot Film Fest – November 07, 2015 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
Asian Robotics Week – November 12-13, 2015 – Singapore
AAAI Fall Symposia – November 12-14, 2015 – Arlington, Va., USA
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
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

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

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha announced a motorcycle robot, and that “R&D is currently underway with the goal of developing the robot to ride an unmodified motorcycle on a racetrack at more than 200 km/h.”


[ Yamaha ] via [ Gizmag ]

If wearing a ridiculous hat is all that takes to teach robots how to make us lunch, sign us up.

Now, seriously, training robots to do tasks by capturing the actions of humans performing those tasks looks very promising. We applaud the TUM researchers for this work, and also for the tasks they chose (making pancakes and sandwiches) to test their methods.

[ TUM Institute for Cognitive Systems ]

The NASA robotic airplane with the worst name ever flies again!

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center engineers located in Edwards, California, are working on an increasingly complex aircraft called the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag, or Prandtl-D. Resembling a boomerang, the aircraft features a new method for determining the shape of the wing with a twist that could lead to an 11-percent reduction in fuel consumption. The concept may also lead to significantly enhanced controllability that could eliminate the need for a vertical tail and potentially to new aircraft designs.

With wings like that, the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag concept aircraft may also lead to a ridiculously long walk between gates at the airport.

[ NASA ]

We’ll almost certainly have more on this project from Stanford, but the video is out in the wild already, so have at it:

[ Brains4Cars ]

Thanks Ashesh!

Thymio hopes that you have an adorably scary Halloween:

[ Thymio ]

Thanks Francesco!

We complain a lot about the vaaaaaast chasm between the state of the art of autonomous drones capable of navigating in the real world and avoiding obstacles and the hyper enthusiastic “seriously guys we’re going to have this up and running pretty soon” promises about urban drone delivery. Here are a few videos from ETH Zurich’s Autonomous Systems Lab (and spinoff company Skybotix) that I think are less than a year old and illustrate close to the current state of the art when it comes to drones that can autonomously avoid stuff using only onboard systems:

This is very cool stuff, but drone delivery? Not yet.


ASL also posted a bunch of other random videos of varying vintages. In something close to chronological order, maybe:

That last one was from a year ago, and you can read the report on it here.

If you haven’t had enough yet, here’s a six year overview of projects from 1988 to 1994 that’s SO CAMPY:


In what is definitely the biggest “Star Wars” news of the year, this R2-D2 “moving refrigerator” is now available for preorder:

At only US $9,000, any true fan can’t afford not to buy this, even if you have to move to Japan to order one.

[ Aqua ] via [ Gizmodo ]

A powered paper airplane with a FPV video system: go on, be skeptical, but the video makes it look pretty cool:

Not bad, right? Look for it on Kickstarter in a couple weeks.

[ PowerUp FPV ]


The SkySafe system can take control of a rogue drone over the air and safely land it.

With detailed event history and real-time notifications, SkySafe offers an unprecedented level of airspace security.

Real-time detection and notification
Uninterrupted protection
Does not rely on radio jamming
Selectively control individual drones
Searchable event history
Enterprise management

Launching in the second half of 2016 to qualified public safety customers.

[ SkySafe ] via [ DIY Drones ]

Hmm, $350 for a 6-DoF all-metal robotic arm with force control and a 1-kg payload that can be programmed interactively? Maybe too good to be true, but it’s on Kickstarter:

7Bot is nearly 500% funded with 10 days to go.

[ Kickstarter ] via [ Engadget ]

We’ve written about the euRathlon challenge a bit, but here’s a 5 minute summary that you can watch so that you can pretend that you read those articles, which you probably didn’t.

euRathlon 2015 Grand Challenge (land+sea+air) was held in Piombino,Italy, 17-25 September 2015. euRathlon is an outdoor robotics competition which invites teams to test the intelligence and autonomy of their robots in realistic mock emergency-response scenarios. Inspired by the 2011 Fukushima accident, the euRathlon competition requires a team of land, underwater and flying robots to work together to survey the scene, collect environmental data, and identify critical hazards.

[ Kickstarter ]

If you weren’t yet convinced about the durability of roachbots:

Higher! We want HIGHER!

[ Kickstarter ]

In September the Yujin Robotics Innovation Team traveled to Spain with their new, bigger and stronger GoCart - GoCart v2.0 - in order to conduct a field test. This field test was carried out at the Ave Maria Foundation, a care facility for people with intellectual disabilities located in Sitges, and with the support of Robotnik Automation S.L.L. and the Robotics Institute for Dependency.

[ Yujin Robotics ]

Blueberry picking is a job that seems ripe for robotization. Or maybe even overripe, I guess, because blueberry growers are offering a $200,000 prize for a robot that can do the job as well as a human, plus $10,000 to help you build a prototype. There is a video associated with the contest of people picking blueberries which you can watch here. But, there are no robots in it, so obviously that’s not going to work for Video Friday. Instead, here is what I got from searching for “blueberry robot” on YouTube: 8 minutes of a guy named Jesse making a blueberry smoothie while occasionally doing the robot.

For more smoothie tips from Jessie (who is also a life coach and vitality architect), visit his website here. If for some reason you’d rather make a blueberry harvesting robot, check out the links below: the deadline to submit a propsal is December 4.

[ Naturipe Challenge ] via [ Robohub ]

That crazy gimmicky Japanese hotel that’s staffed by robots? Motherboard found out that it’s actually pretty awesome:

[ Motherboard ]

Ayanna M. Howard, Motorola Foundation Professor and Associate Director of Research at the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (Georgia Institute of Technology), introduces us to the world of healthcare robotics for therapy purposes. The first point Prof. Howard addresses is the role of robotics in healthcare which is not only to be associated to classical disabilities but to raising the quality of body functionality, hence raising the quality of human life. In this view, she focuses on robots to be used in home environments both by those suffering of classical (genetic or acquired) disabilities as well as by anyone in need of specialized medical care - a robot healthcare assistant. How to provide robotics that can be used both at home and at the hospital in all safety and with highly functional settings and how to have this robots assisting a variety of different individuals in terms of age, disabilities, and specific treatment needs are just some of the questions Dr. Howard addresses in this short but very engaging video lecture.

[ Georgia Tech ] via [ Robohub ]

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