Video Friday: Quadcopter Slalom, RoboBrrds, and Acrobat Robot Sticks the Dismount

Thanks to a GoPro, we get on board a quadrotor while it flies through an obstacle course

2 min read
Video Friday: Quadcopter Slalom, RoboBrrds, and Acrobat Robot Sticks the Dismount

Now this looks like fun: some roboticists at ETH Zurich plopped a GoPro onto a quadrotor and taught it to zip through a slalom course. We've got video of that, plus RoboBrrd on Indiegogo, a robot gymnast that's better than you. AND MORE, for this week's Video Friday.

On a side note, by the time you read this I'll be lying on a beach somewhere in Indonesia, where I'll spend the next few weeks trying very hard not to be a blogger. Erico and some guest writers should be in and out to keep things rolling, and I'll be back right after Thanksgiving, at which point I'll likely be trying to figure out if it's possible to write about robots while suffering from malaria.

Anyhoo, on to the vids!



We shouldn't say that some roboticists at ETH Zurich taught a quadrotor to navigate a slalom course, because it's more like they taught it a learning algorithm than allowed it to teach itself:

After just ten sessions, the robot has figured out the optimal steering commands to negotiate whatever obstacle course you've given it. Also, I love it when robot videos show what happens when things don't quite work as well as they might have: thanks for putting in some crashes, guys! 

Via [ RoboHub ]



Erin Kennedy's RoboBrrd is now on Indiegogo! Woohoo!

We've seen these things in action, and kids absolutely love them. It's a great way to get started on both the hardware and software of robotics, and you can get the entire kit for a ridiculously low $114. This includes the RoboBrrd chassis plus all the electronics, leaving plenty of room for some creative decoration. The Indiegogo campaign is currently over 60%, and we're pretty sure it'll get funded, so get in early to get yourself a brrd.

[ RoboBrrd ]



It's awesome to see that there are now a whole bunch of companies and research institutions working on exoskeletons, and one of the latest is Vanderbilt University:

The advantages of the Vanderbilt exoskeleton include low bulk (you can wear it while in a wheelchair), light weight (just 27 pounds), and an unspecified but "more affordable" cost, which should put make this technology more accessible for both insurance companies and individuals.

Via [ Vanderbilt ]



According to Wikipedia, the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programmable drum machines, from back in the '80s. Moritz Simon Geist made this incredible real live robotic version:

[ MR-808 ] via [ BB ]



Hinamitetu’s robot gymnast is back, and it STICKS THE DISMOUNT:

And there was much rejoicing!



Since we're pretty sure that you don't want to hear any more Gangnam style, here's a series of ads for MyKeepon that'll be airing over in the U.K. in time for whatever holidays they celebrate over there.

I love the Keepon snooze alarm. I want one.



Finally this week, here's a beautifully shot mini documentary on the iCub project and other European artificial intelligence initiatives:

Via [ Plastic Pals ]

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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