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Video Friday: Pepper at Work, Robot Muscles, and NASA's Next Rover

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read
Mars 2020 rover
Image: NASA

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 two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

IEEE IRC 2018 – January 31-2, 2018 – Laguna Hills, Calif.
HRI 2018 – March 5-8, 2018 – Chicago, Ill.

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

We’re not at IREX in Japan this year, sadly, but we’re starting to see some videos showing up from the show. Here’s a nice long demo of Toyota’s new T-HR3, showing how flexible it is. Flexible, and sassy.

And here is a very confident tomato picking robot:

[ Kazumichi Moriyama ]

This is exactly what Peppers are intended to be used for:

TheAmazel ]

Artificial muscles could make soft robots safer and stronger. Researchers at the Wyss Institute, Harvard SEAS, and MIT CSAIL have developed a novel design approach for origami-inspired artificial muscles, capable of lifting 1000x its own weight.

The muscles are made of a compressible skeleton and air or fluid medium encased in a flexible skin, and are powered by pressure difference. The muscle motions are programmed based on the structural geometry of the skeleton. Multi-directional motions can also be programmed into the material. Artificial muscles can also grip, lift, and twist objects.

A variety of materials and fabrication methods can be used to create low-cost artificial muscles. These artificial muscles are fast, light-weight, and powerful, and could be used for miniature medical devices, deployable structures, or wearable robotics.

Harvard ]

The new Velodyne: double the channels, triple the channel density, and doubled the zoom resolution. Range of 300 meters, super dense point clouds, small form factor.

And probably wicked expensive, but most of the people who are buying these things don’t seem like they’d really care.

Velodyne ]

This either makes Amazon’s Alexa way, way better or way, way worse.

[ Howchoo ]

Passive haptic proxy objects allow for rich tangible interaction, and this is especially true in VR applications. However, this requires users to have many physical objects at hand. Our paper proposes robotic assembly at run-time of low-resolution haptic proxies for tangible interaction and virtual reality. These assembled physical proxy objects are composed of magnetically attached blocks which are assembled by a small multi robot system, specifically Zooids. We explore the design of the basic building blocks and illustrate two approaches to assembling physical proxies: using multirobot systems to (1) self-assemble into structures and (2) assemble 2.5D structure with passive blocks of various heights. The success rate and completion time are evaluated for both approaches. Finally, we demonstrate the potential of assembled proxy objects for tangible interaction and virtual reality through a set of demonstrations.

International Conference on Interactive Surfaces and Spaces ] via [ Stanford SHAPE Lab ]

Collaborative object transportation using multiple Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) with limited communication is a challenging problem. In this paper we address the problem of multiple MAVs mechanically coupled to a bulky object for transportation purposes without explicit communication between agents. The apparent physical properties of each agent are reshaped to achieve robustly stable transportation. Parametric uncertainties and unmodeled dynamics of each agent are quantified and techniques from robust control theory are employed to choose the physical parameters of each agent to guarantee stability. Extensive simulation analysis and experimental results show that the proposed method guarantees stability in worst case scenarios.

Paper ] via [ ETH Zurich ]

Turns out, human-like dynamically unstable running is a lot easier when you have visual feedback at 600 frames per second:

[ Ishikawa Watanabe Lab ]

This drone light show video starts off meh, but then the drones START LAUNCHING THEIR OWN FIREWORKS.

I’m sort of surprised we haven’t yet seen drones that shoot lasers at each other to draw shapes in mid air.

[ CollMot ]

Seiko Epson Corporation has commercialized a "seeing, sensing, thinking, working" autonomous dual-arm robot that will expand the scope of automated production. Epson will roll out the new robot, named the WorkSense W-01, in stages beginning this winter.

Epson ]

Happy 5th anniversary to Davide Scaramuzza’s lab at ETH Zurich, and thanks for five years of amazing robot videos! And research. Also the research is good.

This short video celebrates the 5th year anniversary of the Robotics and Perception Group, led by Prof. Davide Scaramuzza, at the Inst. of Neuroinformatics of ETH and University of Zurich and the Inst. of Informatics at the University of Zurich. The lab was funded in 2012 and is funded solely with 3rd party money. 138 people worked in our lab as Bsc/Msc/PhD students, postdocs, and visiting researchers. We thank all of them for contributing to our research. The lab made terrific contributions in the fields of robotics, computer vision, neuromorphic engineering, and visually guided micro aerial vehicles (drones).

Robotics and Perception Group ]

Bridge Bot is a prototype robot for bridge inspection being developed in Sarah Bergbreiter’s Micro Robotics Laboratory, Maryland Robotics Center, University of Maryland. The robot can operate horizontally, vertically and upside down, and transition smoothly from one angle to another, just as it would need to do while monitoring a bridge. It is also capable of moving on surprisingly thin edges.

Nice to see it tested outside on an actual bridge, too.

[ UMD ]

MIT Media Lab wanted to know: “Can we enable social connectivity between astronauts and people on Earth through an embodied agent?” Or, whatever, because it was an excuse for them to put a Jibo in microgravity for some reason:

MIT Media Lab ]

TeleRetail is building autonomous, solar powered (apparently) urban and suburban delivery robots in Germany:

[ TeleRetail ] via [ ROBOTT-NET ]

Drone Delivery Canada is pleased to announce it was granted permission from Transport Canada to test its drone delivery technology in the northern regions of Canada. DDC tested its drone delivery platform in the Moose Factory and Moosonee communities where it completed a series of successful flights.

Really, Canada? Moose Factory? Also, that is the chubbiest drone I’ve ever seen.

[ Drone Delivery Canada ]

Cybathlon will be back in Zurich in 2020:

[ Cybathlon ]

I don’t know what it is about Switzerland, but they do robotics at a level of awesomeness that’s entirely out of proportion to the size of the country:

After its successful launch in 2015, the third edition of the Swiss Robotics Industry Day marked significant participation increment. Over 90 world-wide renowned companies interested in robotics were present, as well as a diverse and dynamic group of speakers and experts who provided in-depth insight into the future of robotics.

[ NCCR ]

NASA will be launching a fancy new rover to Mars in 2020. It’ll be a lot like Curiosity, but with some updates and equipped to do different science. This two hour talk from JPL is probably full of more detail about it than even you wanted to know.

[ Mars 2020 ]

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