Video Friday: Samsung Unveils Ball-Shaped Personal Robot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum’s digital innovation director.

Samsung Ballie robot
Samsung's Ballie is an AI-powered robotic companion designed to assist people at home. The device, still a prototype, was demonstrated at CES this week.
Photo: Samsung

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. 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!):

Robotic Arena – January 25, 2020 – Wrocław, Poland
DARPA SubT Urban Circuit – February 18-27, 2020 – Olympia, Wash., USA
HRI 2020 – March 23-26, 2020 – Cambridge, U.K.
ICARSC 2020 – April 15-17, 2020 – Ponta Delgada, Azores
ICRA 2020 – May 31-4, 2020 – Paris, France

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

Apparently the whole “little home robot with a cute personality will seamlessly improve your life” thing is still going on, at least as far as Samsung is concerned.

Predictably, there’s no information on how much Ballie costs, when it might be available, what’s inside of it, and whether it can survive a shaggy carpet.

Samsung ]

In case you had the good sense to be somewhere besides CES this week, there’s the full demo of Agility RoboticsDigit at the Ford booth.


Because of the nightmarish Wi-Fi environment in the convention center, Digit is steered manually, but the box interaction is autonomous.

[ Agility Robotics ]

Stefano Mintchev from EPFL and his startup Foldaway Haptics are the folks behind the 33 individual actuated "bionic flaps" on the new Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car that was at CES this week.

The underlying technology, which is based on origami structures, can be used in a variety of other applications, like this robotic billboard:

[ Foldaway Haptics ] via [ Mercedes ]

Thanks Stefano!

The Sarcos Guardian XO alpha version is looking way more polished than the pre-alpha prototype that we saw late last year.

And Sarcos tells us that it’s now even more efficient, although despite my begging, they won’t tell us exactly how they’ve managed that.

[ Sarcos ]

It is our belief that in 5 years’ time, not one day will go by without most of us interacting with a robot. Reachy is the only humanoid service robot that is open source and can manipulate objects. He mimics human expressions and body language, with a cute free-moving head and antennas as well as bio-inspired arms. Reachy is the optimum platform to create real-world interactive & service applications right away.

[ Pollen Robotics ]

Ritsumeikan Humanoid System Laboratory is working on a promising hydraulic humanoid:

[ Ritsumeikan HSL ]

With the steep rise of automation and robotics across industries, the requirements for robotic grippers become increasingly demanding. By using acoustic levitational forces, No-​Touch Robotics develops damage and contamination free contactless robotic grippers for handling highly fragile objects. Such grippers can beneficially be applied in the field of micro assembly and the semiconductor industry, resulting in an increased production yield, reduced waste, and high production quality by completely eliminating damage inflicted during handling.

You can also experience the magic by building your own acoustic levitator.

[ ETHZ ]

Preview of the Unitree A1. Maximum torque of each joint is 35.5 Nm. Weight (with battery) 12 kg. Price Less than $10k.

Under $10k? I’m going to start saving up!

[ Unitree ]

A team from the Micro Aerial Vehicle Lab (MAVLab) of TU Delft has won the 2019 Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit, with a final breathtaking victory in the World Championship Race held in Austin, Texas, last December. The team takes home the $1 million grand prize, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, for creating the fastest and most reliable self-piloting aircraft this season.

[ MAVLab ]

After 10 years and 57 robots, hinamitetu brings you a few more.

[ Hinamitetu ]

Vision 60 legged robot managing unstructured terrain without vision or force sensors in its legs.

[ Ghost Robotics ]

In 2019 GRVC has lived one of the best years of its life, with the lastest developments of GRIFFIN ERC Advances Grant, the kick-off meeting of H2020 Aerial-Core Project and another projects.

[ GRVC ]

The Official Wrap-Up of ABU ROBOCON 2019 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

[ RoboCon 2019 ]

Roboy had a busy 2019:

[ Roboy ]

Very interesting talk from IHMC’s Jerry Pratt, at the Workshop on Teleoperation of Humanoid Robots at Humanoids 2019.

[ Workshop ]

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