Sarcos Guardian XT
Rendering showing the teleoperated dexterous robot, called Guardian XT, that Sarcos Robotics is developing.
Image: Sarcos

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!):

IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – [Online]
ROS World 2020 – November 12, 2020 – [Online]
CYBATHLON 2020 – November 13-14, 2020 – [Online]
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colo., USA

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

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Oct. 20, 2020, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.

[ NASA ]

New from David Zarrouk’s lab at BGU is AmphiSTAR, which Zarrouk describes as “a kind of a ground-water drone inspired by the cockroaches (sprawling) and by the Basilisk lizard (running over water). The robot hovers due to the collision of its propellers with the water (hydrodynamics not aerodynamics). The robot can crawl and swim at high and low speeds and smoothly transition between the two. It can reach 3.5 m/s on ground and 1.5m/s in water.”

AmphiSTAR will be presented at IROS, starting next week!

[ BGU ]

This is unfortunately not a great video of a video that was taken at a SoftBank Hawks baseball game in Japan last week, but it’s showing an Atlas robot doing an honestly kind of impressive dance routine to support the team.

Editor’s Note: The tweet embed above is not working for some reason—see the video here.

[ SoftBank Hawks ]

Thanks Thomas!

Sarcos is working on a new robot, which looks to be the torso of their powered exoskeleton with the human relocated somewhere else.

[ Sarcos ]

The biggest holiday of the year, International Sloth Day, was on Tuesday! To celebrate, here’s Slothbot!

[ NSF ]

This is one of those simple-seeming tasks that are really difficult for robots.

I love self-resetting training environments.


The Chiel lab collaborates with engineers at the Center for Biologically Inspired Robotics Research at Case Western Reserve University to design novel worm-like robots that have potential applications in search-and-rescue missions, endoscopic medicine, or other scenarios requiring navigation through narrow spaces.

[ Case Western ]

ANYbotics partnered with Losinger Marazzi to explore ANYmal’s potential of patrolling construction sites to identify and report safety issues. With such a complex environment, only a robot designed to navigate difficult terrain is able to bring digitalization to such a physically demanding industry.

[ ANYbotics ]

Happy 2018 Halloween from Clearpath Robotics!

[ Clearpath ]

Overcoming illumination variance is a critical factor in vision-based navigation. Existing methods tackled this radical illumination variance issue by proposing camera control or high dynamic range (HDR) image fusion. Despite these efforts, we have found that the vision-based approaches still suffer from overcoming darkness. This paper presents real-time image synthesizing from carefully controlled seed low dynamic range (LDR) image, to enable visual simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) in an extremely dark environment (less than 10 lux).


What can MoveIt do? Who knows! Let's find out!

[ MoveIt ]

Thanks Dave!

Here we pick a cube from a starting point, manipulate it within the hand, and then put it back. To explore the capabilities of the hand, no sensors were used in this demonstration. The RBO Hand 3 uses soft pneumatic actuators made of silicone. The softness imparts considerable robustness against variations in object pose and size. This lets us design manipulation funnels that work reliably without needing sensor feedback. We take advantage of this reliability to chain these funnels into more complex multi-step manipulation plans.

[ TU Berlin ]

If this was a real solar array, King Louie would have totally cleaned it. Mostly.

[ BYU ]

Autonomous exploration is a fundamental problem for various applications of unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs). Existing methods, however, were demonstrated to have low efficiency, due to the lack of optimality consideration, conservative motion plans and low decision frequencies. In this paper, we propose FUEL, a hierarchical framework that can support Fast UAV ExpLoration in complex unknown environments.


Countless precise repetitions? This is the perfect task for a robot, thought researchers at the University of Liverpool in the Department of Chemistry, and without further ado they developed an automation solution that can carry out and monitor research tasks, making autonomous decisions about what to do next.

[ Kuka ]

This video shows a demonstration of central results of the SecondHands project. In the context of maintenance and repair tasks, in warehouse environments, the collaborative humanoid robot ARMAR-6 demonstrates a number of cognitive and sensorimotor abilities such as 1) recognition of the need of help based on speech, force, haptics and visual scene and action interpretation, 2) collaborative bimanual manipulation of large objects, 3) compliant mobile manipulation, 4) grasping known and unknown objects and tools, 5) human-robot interaction (object and tool handover) 6) natural dialog and 7) force predictive control.

[ SecondHands ]

In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, Silicon Valley Robotics hosted a panel of Women in Robotics.

[ Robohub ]

As part of the upcoming virtual IROS conference, HEBI robotics is putting together a tutorial on robotics actuation. While I’m sure HEBI would like you to take a long look at their own actuators, we’ve been assured that no matter what kind of actuators you use, this tutorial will still be informative and useful.

[ YouTube ] via [ HEBI Robotics ]

Thanks Dave!

This week’s UMD Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar comes from Julie Shah at MIT, on “Enhancing Human Capability with Intelligent Machine Teammates.”

Every team has top performers- people who excel at working in a team to find the right solutions in complex, difficult situations. These top performers include nurses who run hospital floors, emergency response teams, air traffic controllers, and factory line supervisors. While they may outperform the most sophisticated optimization and scheduling algorithms, they cannot often tell us how they do it. Similarly, even when a machine can do the job better than most of us, it can’t explain how. In this talk I share recent work investigating effective ways to blend the unique decision-making strengths of humans and machines. I discuss the development of computational models that enable machines to efficiently infer the mental state of human teammates and thereby collaborate with people in richer, more flexible ways.

[ UMD ]

Matthew Piccoli gives a talk to the UPenn GRASP Lab on “Trading Complexities: Smart Motors and Dumb Vehicles.”

We will discuss my research journey through Penn making the world's smallest, simplest flying vehicles, and in parallel making the most complex brushless motors. What do they have in common? We'll touch on why the quadrotor went from an obscure type of helicopter to the current ubiquitous drone. Finally, we'll get into my life after Penn and what tools I'm creating to further drone and robot designs of the future.

[ UPenn ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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