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Video Friday: Snakebot Swimming, Robots and Duckies, and Giant Eyeball Blimp
Image: Kongsberg via YouTube

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

FIRST Robotics Championship – April 27-30, 2016 – St. Louis, Missouri
International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICARSC 2016 – May 4-6, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
ARMS 2016 – May 9-13, 2016 – Singapore
ICRA 2016 – May 16-21, 2016 – Stockholm, Sweden
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 18-20, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
Skolkovo Robotics Conference – May 20, 2016 – Skolkovo, Russia
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France
RoboCity16 – May 26-27, 2016 – Madrid, Spain
RoboBusiness Europe – June 1-3, 2016 – Odense, Denmark
IEEE RAS MRSSS 2016 – June 6-10, 2016 – Singapore
CR-HRI – June 6-10, 2016 – Orlando, Fla., USA
NASA SRRC Level 1 – June 6-11, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
Field Robot Event – June 14-18, 2016 – Haßfurt, Germany
RSS 2016 – June 18-22, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Mich., USA
European Land Robot Trial – June 20-24, 2016 – Eggendorf, Austria
Automatica 2016 – June 21-25, 2016 – Munich, Germany
ISR 2016 – June 21-22, 2016 – Munich, Germany
UK National Robotics Week – June 25-1, 2016 – United Kingdom
TAROS 2016 – June 28-30, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
RoboCup 2016 – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
Amazon Picking Challenge – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
IEEE AIM 2016 – July 12-15, 2016 – Banff, Canada
DLMC 2016 – July 13-15, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
MARSS 2016 – July 18-22, 2016 – Paris, France

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

Picassnake is a painting robot dressed up as a snake (!) that can rather violently paint abstract art (!!) based on things that it hears (!!!):

Picassnake consists of an arm and a head, embedded in a plush snake doll. The robot is connected to a laptop for control and music processing, which can be fed through a microphone or an MP3 file. To open the media source, an operator can use the graphical user interface or place a text QR code in front of a webcam. Once the media source is opened, Picassnake generates unique strokes based on the music and translates the strokes to physical movement to paint them on canvas.

I especially like how little resemblance the end product bears to the software simulated painting. That’s art for you.

[ University of Manitoba ]

Speaking of robot snakes, I love the purity of form and motion embodied by these bio-inspired creatures, especially in the water:

And you know what robot snakes can have over real snakes? Thrusters:

[ Kongsberg ] via [ Engadget ]

“Multi-Scale Assembly with Robot Teams,” by Mehmet Dogar, Ross A. Knepper, Andrew Spielberg, Changhyun Choi, Henrik I. Christensen, and Daniela Rus:

Clearly, MIT’s next new building is going to be constructed by a trio of gigantic KUKA youBots.

And nice touch putting the little police car on top of the dome.

[ IJRR ]

All giant boxing robots should come with ping pong ball launchers:

[ Hajime Research ]

This is not a bad demo from Ubtech’s Alpha 2 robot, but it’s hard to tell how much is interactive, and how much is scripted:

[ Ubtech ]

MARLO managed to walk 260 meters outdoors over 14 minutes without stopping:

Unlike most other 3D walking robots, MARLO is walking on very tiny passive feet (i.e., no ankle actuation) and she is not using a camera or anything else to sense the terrain. The self-balance is based on an advanced feedback control system, a dynamics model, and proprioception (joint encoders and an IMU). The navigation is directed by a joystick controller.

Er, MARLO is a girl...?


Hey, Jibo can do something useful!

I like the concentration emoting. It’s exactly what I do.

[ Jibo ]

Robots and duckies are now officially a thing, and MIT’s newest class uses them to teach advanced autonomy:

The duckie cars are open source and only $100. I can handle that. But I’m not sure if I can handle the smooth beats of Duckietown after dark:

[ MIT ]

The DARPA Vertical Take-Off/Landing X-plane (VTOL x-plane) Program achieved a critical milestone as Aurora Flight Sciences’ subscale vehicle demonstrator successfully flew at a U.S. military facility. The flight of the subscale aircraft met an important DARPA risk reduction requirement, focusing on validation of the aerodynamic design and flight control system.

The subscale aircraft weighs 325 pounds and is a 20% scale flight model of the full scale demonstrator Aurora will build for DARPA in the next 24 months. The wing and canard of the subscale vehicle utilize a hybrid structure of carbon fiber and 3D printed FDM plastics to achieve highly complex structural and aerodynamic surfaces with minimal weight.

[ Aurora Flight Sciences ]

Ellen Cappo and John Yao did live demos of their work during National Robotics Week in the CMU Planetary Robotics Highbay on April 15, 2016.

[ CMU ]

Ant + robot = Antbo.

Support it on Indiegogo for $70. (As always, keep in mind that it’s crowdfunding, not purchasing.)

[ Indiegogo ]

The annual Mobot races during the CMU Carnival are surprisingly fun to watch:

[ CMU Mobot ]

Forty one million steps—that’s a lot of steps, especially when you consider that not many of them would probably have been taken if it weren’t for Ekso’s exoskeletons:

[ Ekso Bionics ]

Clearpath Robotics (or OTTO Motors, I’m not quite sure) was at MODEX 2016 with OTTO, mini-OTTO, and a fancy new logo:

[ OTTO Motors ]

The ARGOS Challenge (Autonomous Robot for Gas and Oil Sites) is happening in three stages, and stage two just completed. Here’s a summary video of Team LIO from ETH Zurich:

Nice stair climbing technique.

[ ETH Zurich ]

The RoboCup European Open 2016 Final between Team B-Human and Nao-Team HTWK is 27 minutes long and as exciting as standard size RoboCup soccer competitions ever get:

[ Team B-Human ]

At first I was worried that this was going to be just another drone footage video with pompous music, but all of a sudden...that GIANT ROBOT EYEBALL BLIMP we saw in Germany last month shows up.

[ Aerotain ]

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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