Video Friday: Robotic Garden, Drone With Parachute, and Chocolate Robot Competition

With 100 robotic flowers, you can explain how an algorithm works better than any blogger

4 min read
Video Friday: Robotic Garden, Drone With Parachute, and Chocolate Robot Competition

How on earth do you make an algorithm exciting and visual? As journalists, we struggle with this all the time. MIT students, to the surprise of nobody, are way cleverer than we are, and they’ve developed a garden full of robotic flowers that can be programmed to physically illustrate the effects of algorithms on a set of data by opening, closing, and changing colors.

Watch them do their flowery thing, and then watch all the rest of Video Friday, because… uh, because it’s Video Friday. Yeah, that.

The press release also mentions something about origami sheep robots and printable, swimming robotic ducks. I didn’t notice them in the vid, but the paper has been accepted at ICRA 2015, so we’ll cover that for you in May.

And just for fun, here’s the original distributed robot garden video from 2009:

[ Robot Garden ] via [ MIT ]

How cheap can you possibly go for a telepresence robot that can do more than just drive around and plead with people to pay attention to it? With Origibot, you can get a mobile telepresence arm and gripper for $600. It’s now on Indiegogo:

[ Origibot ]

If you’d prefer to invest your money in something a little more, um, flying, check out what might be the most complicated drone we’ve ever seen:

[ Kickstarter ]

This next thing, you can’t buy. Because it’s not done yet. When it’s done, we’re all doomed, because it’s terrifying:

See, this right here is the reason why we need rules about people flying drones all over the place.

[ Goliath ]

MARLO is a 3D robot designed to study principles of dynamic walking. Unlike most other 3D walking robots, MARLO does not have large feet with powered ankles. This forces the robot to balance dynamically, but may lead to more natural and more energetically efficient walking.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

Maybe a little bit belated, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Happy Valentine’s Day from Barobo:

[ Barobo ]

I like watching big surveillance drones do their thing, because they usually have amusing ways of taking off and landing. In this particular case, Falcon UAV launches their drones with giant bungee cords, and then to land, the drone pops a parachute and then just heads straight down.

[ Falcon UAV ]

One more UAV video: DelFly at 6,000 frames per second:

[ DelFly ]

We’re still not sure how enthuseastic we are about Anki’s new track segments (since they’re just new track segments), but we’ll admit that the giant track that they made up is kinda awesome:

[ Anki Overdrive ]

RoboCup is in China in July, and watching qualification videos is already getting us excited:

[ TU Eindhoven ] and [ RoboCup 2015 ]

MIT’s Personal Robots Group has posted some new videos of old research. This week, we’ve treated to more footage of Leo, along with an RoCo, an expressive robotic computer:

In this video we see how Leonardo is capable of (1) learning new skills via social guidance and (2) reusing parts of those skills in new social tasks. In this scenario, Leo learns from Jesse's guidance how to manipulate the puzzle boxes through switches. Then, Leo learns which blocks Jesse wants him to use to build a sailboat. Along the way, Leo re-uses his previously learned skill of manipulating the puzzle box in order to acquire the necessary components.

RoCo is a novel robotic computer designed to move its monitor in subtly expressive ways that respond to and encourage its user's own postural movement. People frequently mirror the posture of a socially expressive robot when engaged in a social interaction. One potential benefit of introducing increased postural movement into computer use is reduced back pain, where physical movement is recognized as one of the key preventative measures.

[ Personal Robots Group ]

The SMErobotics work system “covers all phases of the robot life-cycle and in which humans and robots can together deal with SME manufacturing uncertainties and are symbiotically able to learn from each other and to learn from the past handling of uncertainties.” This promo video doesn’t say much about the project, but it does a lovely job of not saying much, kind of like the quote:

To actually learn something about the project, you’ll want to check out the link below.

[ SME Robotics ]

Thanks Thilo!

This 1998 video shows a very early version of RHex negotiating rough terrain:

RHex when it first appeared ran at only one body length (∼50 cm) per second over comparably scaled broken terrain - nevertheless much faster than any previous untethered legged machine. In these early days, RHex's empirically stable and highly maneuverable locomotion arose from a very simple clock-driven, open-loop tripod gait. The three legs of each tripod are driven simultaneously through a slow “retraction” phase, putatively corresponding to ground contact, followed by a fast “protraction” phase designed to recirculate the legs away from the ground around the axle just in time to reach the next retraction phase, putatively as the opposing tripod begins its protraction by rotating away from ground contact."

RHex was officially introduced in 2001 in this paper.

[ RHex ]

Let’s wrap with half an hour of Japanese robots running around and occasionally shooting stuff while dressed as chocolate bars, because a chocolate company sponsoring a robotics competition is quite possibly the best combination ever:

Via [ Biped Robot News ]

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
Blue

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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