Upper body mechanism of the child android Affetto developed at Osaka University's Asada Lab.
Upper body mechanism of a child android developed at Osaka University's Asada Lab.
Image: Osaka University's Asada Lab via YouTube

Editor’s note: Our very first Video Friday post was published on 12 August 2011. This means that today Video Friday is five years old! We’d like to thank you, our loyal readers, for spending your Fridays watching robot videos with us (what could be more important?). And for those of you developing the next-generation of robots at companies, startups, and research labs everywhere, please continue writing us about your projects so we can keep Video Friday going for another half decade.

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your baby-loving Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

RO-MAN 2016 – August 26-31, 2016 – New York, N.Y., USA
ECAI 2016 – August 29-2, 2016 – The Hague, Holland
NASA SRRC Level 2 – September 2-5, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
ISyCoR 2016 – September 7-9, 2016 – Ostrava, Czech Republic
European Rover Challenge – September 10-13, 2016 – Podkarpackie, Poland
Gigaom Change – September 21-23, 2016 – Austin, Texas, USA
RoboBusiness – September 28-29, 2016 – San Jose, Calif., USA
ISER 2016 – October 3-6, 2016 – Tokyo, Japan
Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, South Korea


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

We got a teaser about the Omnicopter during Raff D’Andrea’s most recent TED Talk, but this dedicated video shows it off much better:

Like all the coolest robots, the things it can do look like CGI, right?

[ ICRA Paper ] via [ Flying Machine Arena ]

This is what drone delivery is practical for right now:

On July 27, 2016, Michigan-based Vayu, Inc., in collaboration with the Stony Brook University Global Health Institute completed the first ever series of long-range, fully autonomous drone delivery flights with blood and stool samples, setting records in the process. The samples were flown from villages in rural Madagascar to Stony Brook University’s Centre ValBio, a central testing facility located adjacent to Ranamafana National Park, over hilly terrain without any road infrastructure.

The unique ability of Vayu’s delivery drone to take off and land anywhere solves that problem and helps vulnerable rural communities to get the medical care they deserve. “The flights to and from villages in the Ifanadiana district of Madagascar ushers in a new era in bringing healthcare to people living in really remote settings,” said Dr. Peter Small, the Founding Director of Stony Brook’s Global Health Institute. “This day would not have been possible without the support of the government and people of Madagascar. In this context, drones will find innumerable uses such as accelerating the diagnosis of tuberculosis and ensuring the delivery of vaccines.”

[ Vayu ] via [ Cafe Foundation ]

There isn’t a lot of information on these ReefScout robots from Ocean Lab, but it’s very cool to see them swarming, and I’m pretty sure the swarming behavior is autonomous, with a human just providing a single control input:

[ Ocean Lab ]

I’m not sure that this video of Affetto’s hardware is technically new, but who ever gets tired of seeing skinless robot babies?

And just to refresh your memory of what it looks like with the skin on:

One more, for old time’s sake:

You’re welcome.

[ Asada Lab ]

Strictly speaking (the way we like to speak around here), this remote controlled camera system is almost certainly not a robot, but here it is anyway, because Olympics I guess?

[ CNN ]

I would trade all seven of my vacuuming robots for one PLEN2 with a cute lil mop:

[ PLEN ]

Last weekend at the Qingdao Beer Festival in Shandong, China, 1,007 robots bopped and shimmied their way to a new world record for the Most robots dancing simultaneously. Named QRC-2, each of the 43.8 cm tall dancing machines were controlled from just one mobile phone and they had to dance for a full minute in order to count towards the record total.

Depending on your definition of “dance” I bet Kilobots could absolutely wreck this record.

[ Guinness ]

Mark Daniel will be the pilot for IHMC Robotics entry in the Cybathlon 2016. This is Mark’s first time standing and walking since he last evaluated IHMC’s X1 exoskeleton in 2012.

[ IHMC ]

Mmm, sushi:

Those two fake fingers are what really make it.

[ Impress ]

Fellow Robots’ NAVii has been doing some retail work over in Japan:

[ Fellow Robots ]

Another crowdfunding launch for a social companion robot, Moorebot:

Blame Jibo if you want, but all of these social home robots kind of look the same and promise the same things, while having crowdfunding videos that are basically identical. And honestly? I don’t really believe any of them are going to deliver on their original promises, not even Jibo. At least this one is only $160.

[ Indiegogo ]

A cute performance idea, and well executed:

[ teamVOID ] via [ KUKA ]

Victoria University’s architecture students are experiencing the future of digital fabrication first hand, with the installation of a robot lab, complete with an ABB IRB 6700 industrial robot, in the School of Architecture and Design.

[ Victoria University in New Zealand ]

Normally we don’t like to post simulations, but this one is kind of fun: it’s highlights from UT Austin’s 19-0 rout of RoboCup 2016 Simulation League, where they scored 88 goals and allowed only 1. As with all simulations, the relationship between the behaviors exhibited by the software NAOs and real NAOs seems tenuous at best, but it does allow for some entertaining acrobatics:

[ UT Austin ]

This video showcases the Transition Research Corporation’s (TRC) LabMate robot system with its sonar-based localization systems. Joseph F. Engelberger, considered by many to be the “Father of Robotics,” founded TRC. Engelberger wrote a book about service robotics in 1969, and TRC was part of his vision to deliver a generation of service robots. The LabMate platform is a differential drive robot used by many U.S. laboratories for early research in mobile robotics. Additionally, the LabMate platform was also used as the base for the HelpMate platform for hospital logistics, a system that was delivered to a number of hospitals. This video presents both the basis of the platform and the associated system for ultrasonic based perception for mapping and collision avoidance.

[ Georgia Tech ]

Jean-Baptiste Mouret discusses his Nature paper, “Robots That Can Adapt Like Animals.” You’ll have to be really into this research, though: the quality of the video and audio are not great.

[ Jean-Baptiste Mouret ]

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is hosting the first-ever Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation, which gather experts and researchers from across industry, academia, and government for a discussion on different topic areas related to policy, research and development, and technology in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) applications and airspace integration.

Here’s a recording of the live stream, in case you missed it:

Also, you can see me in the back in all of the crowd shots pretending to be a journalist at the White House.

[ White House ]

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
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"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.

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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