Video Friday: PR2 With Nailgun, Snake Bot Tango, and Robot vs Sword Master

Get caught up with non-ICRA, non-DRC videos. We promise!

3 min read
Video Friday: PR2 With Nailgun, Snake Bot Tango, and Robot vs Sword Master
Image: Yaskawa

Over the past few weeks, between ICRA and the DRC Finals, we’ve had enough incredible and exciting and amazing and stupendous robots to last us the rest of the summer. But of course, while we were focused on Seattle and Pomona, other cool robotics stuff was happening. We’re going to get you caught up on some of it today, in a post that we promise will have zero DARPA Robotics Challenge content, because after more than a dozen posts in like five days, we all need just a little bit of a break.

Rather than starting out with a robot and a ninja, check out something that might be even cooler: the latest iteration of the Blind Juggler, created by roboticist and artist Raffaello D’Andrea and his group at ETH Zurich. This machine uses no sensors to toss balls in a circular pattern between a cloverleaf of carefully machined and tilted paddles:

What’s next? A concept that’s yet cooler still:

This is based on real physics, and we’re expecting to eventually see a live implementation.

[ Blind Juggler ]

Now robots and ninjas? NO. Robots and nailguns!

The birdhouse team (Ben Cohen, Mike Phillips and Ellis Ratner) got a PR2 to build birdhouses via a autonomous flexible assembly model.

And nailguns.

[ CMU ]

Okay, now robots and ninjas.

Yaskawa Electric Corporation will continue to transmitting "manufacturing spirit" inherited unbroken in this Corporation to the world at the juncture of its 100th anniversary. "YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT" is the project representing Machii's swordplay exactly the same by using "MOTOMAN-MH24", he retains many world record like "Cutting BB Gun 6mm pellet" and his play is also said God's miracle, while challenging to the performance limits of the industrial robot that integrate the "agility", "accuracy", "flexibility" to high-dimension.

[ Yaskawa Motoman ]

Inside of ninjas, there are squishy goopy things. Inside of robots, there’s all this stuff:

[ KUKA ]

ABB has been working on non-one-big-giant-arm robots that are better at collaborating with humans and not squishing them into goop. The infuriatingly capitalized YuMi uses soft fingers to put apples in boxes, seriously threatening the apple boxing profession:

[ YuMi ]

I hope you’re ready for Thymio to go wireless, because Thymio is going wireless:

€150 gets you one, and upgrade kits are available for existing Thymios.

[ Indiegogo ]

Demos of drones that can follow people invariably take place at ski resorts, on rivers or lakes, in the middle of wide open fields, or other places where there aren’t a whole bunch of things for these flying robots to smash themselves into. It’s nice to see this demo from CyPhy of their LVL 1 drone following someone through the middle of a lot of busyness in Boston:

There’s still time to get one on Kickstarter!

[ Kickstarter ]

We like the tailsitter design for drones because it allows them to transition from hovering (situationally useful but inefficient) to wing-aided forward flight (very efficient for covering distance). The control problem is a more difficult one, but ETH Zurich has cracked it, at least in a motion capture arena:

[ ETH Zurich ]

And now, this:

[ CMU Biorobotics ]

Jennifer Darwin won the 2015 ICRA Humanoids Challenge for demonstrating skills like these:

The robot actively balances and compensates for small disturbances in the slope by using PID controllers to control the inclination of the centre-of-mass in both the left-right and front-back directions. Turning and braking are accomplished through ZMP control.

We use coloured markers to indicate the course; the robot is programmed to stay inside the region marked by the blue and pink flags.

Cross-country skiing uses a heavily-modified walking gait inspired by our previous work on ice skating in 2012. By lengthening the stride, lowering the vertical amplitude, and increasing the period time we were able to develop a gait that allowed the robot to move across natural snow.

[ Manitoba ]

ESA is sending a robot to Mars with a big drill in 2016, with the hope of finding some trace of life. We’ll end this long, long week with a not so long (8 minutes) video about the robot and the mission.

[ ExoMars ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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