Video Friday: ReachBot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

A square white robot on a concrete floor attaches to rocks using grippers on the ends of extended metal measuring tapes.

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL

Enjoy today’s videos!

ReachBot is a new concept for planetary exploration, consisting of a small body and long, lightweight extending arms loaded primarily in tension. The arms are equipped with spined grippers for anchoring on rock surfaces. Experiments with rock grasping and coordinated locomotion illustrate the advantages of low-inertia passive grippers, triggered by impact and using stored mechanical energy for the internal force.

[ Paper ]

DHL Supply Chain is deploying Stretch to automate trailer unloading and support warehouse associates. In the past 8 to 10 years there have been tremendous advancements in warehouse automation. DHL has been a leader in deploying automation technology to improve efficiency, drive cost-effectiveness, and support exceptional employee experiences. Discover how they are putting Stretch to work.

[ Boston Dynamics ]

Scientists at the University of Bristol have drawn on the design and life of a mysterious zooplankton to develop underwater robots. These robotic units, named RoboSalps after their animal namesakes, have been engineered to operate in unknown and extreme environments, such as extraterrestrial oceans.

RoboSalps are unique, as each individual module can swim on its own. This is possible because of a small motor with rotor blades—typically used for drones—that is inserted into the soft tubular structure. When swimming on their own, RoboSalps modules are difficult to control, but after joining them together to form colonies, they become more stable and show sophisticated movements.

[ Bristol ]

AIce is an autonomous Zamboni convoy that is designed to automate ice resurfacing in any ice rink. The current goal of this product is to demonstrate an autonomous driving task based on the leader-follower method, utilizing computer vision, motion planning, control, and localization. The team aspires to build this project in a manner that will give it potential to grow after the project is completed to a fully autonomous Zamboni.

[ AIce ] via [ CMU ]

We propose a new neck design for legged robots to achieve robust visual-inertial state estimation in dynamic locomotion. While visual-inertial state estimation is widely used in robotics, it can be disturbed by the impacts and vibration generated when legged robots move dynamically. To address this problem, we develop a tunable neck system that absorbs the impacts and vibration during diverse gait locomotions.

[ Paper ]

I will not make any comments about meat-handling robots.

[ Soft Robotics ]

This should be pretty cool to see once it’s running on hardware.

[ Paper ]

A largely untapped potential for aerial robots is to capture airborne targets in flight. We present an approach in which a simple dynamic model of a quadrotor/target interaction leads to the design of a gripper and associated velocity sufficiency region with a high probability of capture. We demonstrate in-flight experiments that a 550-g drone can capture an 85-g target at various relative velocities between 1 meter per second and 2.7 m/s.

[ Paper ]

The process of bin picking presents new challenges again and again. In order to be able to deal with small and flat component geometries as well as with entanglements and packaging material, methods of machine learning are used at Fraunhofer IPA. In addition to increasing the robustness of the removal process, attempts are also made to minimize the process time and the commissioning effort.

[ Fraunhofer ]

The history of lidar: After the devastating loss of Mars Observer, the Goddard team mourns and regroups to build a second MOLA [ Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter] instrument for the Mars Global Surveyor mission. But before their laser altimeter goes to Mars, the team seizes an opportunity to test it on the space shuttle.

[ NASA ] [Leaders in Lidar, Chapter 1]

What are the challenges in the development of humanoid robotic systems? What are the advantages and what are the criticalities? Bruno Siciliano, coordinator of PRISMA Lab, discusses these themes with Fabio Puglia, president and cofounder of Oversonic Robotics. Moderated by science journalist Riccardo Oldani, Siciliano and Puglia also bring concrete cases of the development of two humanoid robots, Rodyman and RoBee, respectively, and their applications.

[ PRISMA Lab ]

Please join us for a lively panel discussion featuring GRASP Faculty members including Dr. Nadia Figueroa, Dr. Dinesh Jayaraman, and Dr. Marc Miskin. This panel will be moderated by Penn Engineering SEAS Dean Dr. Vijay Kumar.

[ UPenn ]

An interactive webinar discussing how progress in robotic materials is impacting the field of manipulation. The second conversation in the series, hosted by Northwestern’s Center for Robotics and Biosystems. Moderator: Carmel Majidi, Carnegie Mellon University. Panelists: Elliot W. Hawkes, UC Santa Barbara; Tess Hellebrekers, Meta AI; Nancy Pollard, Carnegie Mellon University; Yon Visell, UC Santa Barbara.

[ Northwestern ]

At the 2022 Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL), Waymo’s head of research, Drago Anguelov, shared some of his team’s recent research on improving models for behavior.

[ Waymo ]

This week’s CMU RI Seminar, “Motion Planning Around Obstacles with Graphs of Convex Sets,” is from Russ Tedrake.

[ CMU ]

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