Video Friday: Robot Gecko Smashes Face Into Tree

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Video Friday: Robot Gecko Smashes Face Into Tree

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

DARPA SubT Finals – September 21-23, 2021 – Louisville, KY, USA

WeRobot 2021 – September 23-25, 2021 – [Online Event]

IROS 2021 – September 27-1, 2021 – [Online Event]

ROSCon 2021 – October 20-21, 2021 – [Online Event]

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

The incredible title of this paper is "Tails stabilize landing of gliding geckos crashing head-first into tree trunks." No hype here at all: geckos really do glide, they really do crash head-first into tree trunks, and they really do rely on their tails for post-landing stabilization and look ridiculous while doing it.

Their gecko-inspired robot features a soft torso, where the tail can be taken off and put back on. When the front foot hits a surface, the robot is programmed to bend its tail just like the reflex that Jusufi discovered previously in climbing geckos. The information is processed via a microcontroller on the shoulder. This signal activates the motor to pull on a tendon and hence pushes the tail into the wall to slow the head over heels pitchback.

"Nature has many unexpected, elegant solutions to engineering problems—and this is wonderfully illustrated by the way geckos can use their tails to turn a head-first collision into a successful perching maneuver. Landing from flight is difficult, and we hope our findings will lead to new techniques for robot mobility—sometimes crashes are helpful," Robert Siddall describes.

[ Paper ] via [ UC Berkeley ]

Thanks, Robert!

The subterranean stage is being set for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Final Event at Louisville's Mega Cavern. The event is the culmination of a vision to revolutionize search and rescue using robots in underground domains. Tune in Sept 21-24 on SubTV.

I'll be there!

[ SubT ]

Remote work has been solved thanks to Robovie-Z.

[ Vstone ]

The best part of this video is not the tube-launched net-firing drone-hunting drone, it's the logo of the giant chameleon perched on top of a Humvee firing its tongue at a bug while being attacked by bats for some reason.

[ Dynetics ]

I'm pretty sure this is an old video, but any robot named "Schmoobot" has a place in Video Friday.


[ Ballbot ]

Some more recent videos on Ballbot, and we're very happy that it's still an active research platform!

The CMU ballbot using its whole body controller to maintain balance on top of its ball while also balancing a red cup with water on the right hand while tracking a circular motion and an empty water bottle on the left hand.

[ Ballbot ]

On Aug. 18, 2021, the MQ25 T1 test asset refueled a U.S. Navy E-2D Hawkeye command-and-control aircraft. This is the unmanned aerial refueler's second refueling mission.

Not to throw shade here, but I think the robot plane landed a little bit better than the human piloted plane.

[ Boeing ]

We proposed a method to wirelessly drive multiple soft actuators by laser projection. Laser projection enables both wireless energy supply and the selection of target actuators. Thus, we do not need additional components such as electric circuits and batteries to achieve simple and scalable implementation of multiple soft actuators.

[ Takefumi Hiraki ]

Thanks, Fan!

In this video, we demonstrated the motion of our biped robot "Robovie-Z", which we used to enter the "ROBO-ONE Ultimate Action" contest.

[ Robo-One ]

Some impressive performance here, but that poor drone is overstuffed.

[ RISLab ]

Proximity sensors and analog circuits are all it takes to make a fairly high performance manipulation.

[ Keisuke Koyama ]

Thanks, Fan!

This video showcases an LP control algorithm producing both gravitational load compensation and cuff force amplification capabilities via whole-body exoskeleton forces. Parts of this video contain an additional payload of 25lbs (a weight on the back).

[ UT Austin HCRL ]

An overview of Tertill the solar-powered weeding robot for home gardens. Watch Joe Jones, the inventor of Tertill (and Roomba!) talk about how the robot and how and where it works.

[ Tertill ]

One small step integrating our Extend AMAS VR software to operate Universal Robots UR5e. This VR application combines volumetric telepresence technology with interactive digital twin to provide intuitive interface for non-robotic expert to teleoperate or program the robot from remote location over the internet.

[ Extend Robotics ]

Enrollment is open for a pair of online courses taught by Christoph Bartneck that'll earn you a Professional Certificate in Human-Robot Interaction. While the website really wants you to think that it costs you $448.20, if you register, you can skip the fee and take the courses for free! The book is even free, too. I have no idea how they can afford to do this, but good on them, right?

[ edX ]

Thanks, Christoph!

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

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.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less