The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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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.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!


It’s for inspecting sewers, which means that it has a way into your house.

[ Tmsuk ] via [ Robotstart ]

As impressive as this is (and I’m pretty impressed), this really reinforces how effortless this kind of manipulation is for most humans.

[ Sanctuary ]

Yifeng Zhu from UT Austin writes, “We have a paper accepted at the Conference on Robot Learning 2022, which describes a robot that learns a closed-loop visuomotor policy to make coffee using k-cup machine. We envision that our model can apply to robot manipulators to perform complicated in-home tasks with a handful of demonstrations, and we are very excited to share our work with the community.”


Thanks, Yifeng!

If you want to properly train a table-tennis robot in the real world, you need something on the other side of the table to challenge it. This open-source ball launcher, called AIMY, is arguably better than a human at this.

[ AIMY ]

Thanks, Alexander!

Come for the inflatable tentacles, stay for the manipulator made out of pool floaties.

[ Suzumori Endo Lab ]

Petoi Bittle robot dog is dressed up to play a Halloween scene. He approaches a gummy bear from behind. But it turned out to be...

[ Bittle ]

Thanks, Rongzhong!

Kodiak is the first self-driving trucking company to demonstrate how our autonomous technology, the kodiakDriver, can maintain complete control of the truck even after suffering a catastrophic tire blowout. The kodiakDriver can actually maintain such precise control that the vehicle doesn’t even leave the lane.

The stopping in the middle of the road there is just to illustrate the control that the vehicle has; in practice, it would pull over to the side.

[ Kodiak ]

Some beautiful flapping-wing motion on this orithopter.

[ GRVC ]

We propose WaddleWalls, a room-scale interactive partitioning system using a swarm of robotic partitions that allow occupants to interactively reconfigure workspace partitions to satisfy their privacy and interaction needs.

[ Paper ]

Boston Dynamics celebrates 30 years of innovation, exploration, and collaboration! We're excited to see what the next 30 years holds for us and for the robotics industry.

[ Boston Dynamics ]

I think perhaps I am nowhere near wealthy enough to understand the point of this.

Apparently, you wear a sensorized version of the watch for a couple of weeks, which allows this robot arm to re-create your movements, and then the actual watch gets calibrated based on how you like to wave your arms around IRL. Which seems a little nuts to me, but so does spending US $93,500 on a watch.

[ De Bethune ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Well, this is probably my least favorite use case for drones. Not sure how much of the video is real, but the project certainly is.

[ Elbit ]

Franka Emika released its next-generation robotic platform—Franka Research 3—the platform of choice for cutting-edge AI and robotics research.

[ Franka ]

What makes the human hand special, and why is it worth replicating in mechanical form?

[ Shadow ]

This week's CMU RI Seminar is from Chelsea Finn at Stanford, entitled "Robots Should Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle."

Despite numerous successes in deep robotic learning over the past decade, the generalization and versatility of robots across environments and tasks has remained a major challenge. In this talk, I will discuss how our embodied learning algorithms need to reduce, reuse, and recycle—reducing the need for special-purpose online data collection, reusing existing data, and recycling pretrained models with various downstream tasks.

[ CMU RI ]

Watch the entire Bay Area Robotics Symposium live stream here.

[ BARS 2022 ]

Special thanks today to Dr. Eric Ackerman, an IEEE member with an email address that often gets confused with mine and who very kindly sends stuff along to me.

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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