Video Friday: Smart Snakebots, Harlem Shake RoboCup, and Drones Come Home

Sit back and enjoy 12 new robot videos, and one audio

3 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

Video Friday: Smart Snakebots, Harlem Shake RoboCup, and Drones Come Home

Last week's was a record-breaking edition of Video Friday, with a total of 12 videos. But don't worry. We're outdoing ourselves this week: Sit back and enjoy 12 new awesome robot videos and one audio.

Snake robots are cool. They slither. They swim. They shoot laser with their mouths. Researchers often say that snakebots are great for search and rescue applications. You send one into a disaster site and use its cameras to see what's going on there. But with all the slithering and rolling and undulating, watching through a snakebot's eyes might be a nausea-inducing experience. Now the folks at the CMU Biorobotics Lab might have a solution. The clip below shows how their snake robot can point its head in a desired direction while climbing on a pole: the whole body moves; the head doesn't. Pretty cool. And check out their other vid as well, showing the snake tracking a moving object while climbing.

[ CMUBiorobotics on YouTube ]


Bartenders beware: the robots are coming for your job. The creators of Bartendro, an open-source cocktail dispensing robot, have put their project on Kickstarter. They've designed and fabricated their own liquid-dispensing devices, which include a custom control board and a "peristaltic pump." A Raspberry Pi computer commands up to 15 of these precision dispensers to concoct a variety of cocktails. The design still need some improvements (it can't handle carbonated beverages), but we can see this thing becoming a hit at parties and events. And some people have already suggested add-ons, such as a card reader for payment or a breathalyzer.

[ Kickstarter ]

Thanks, Garran!


What's that below? PR2 learning to use chopsticks? Not quite. The video is a demo, created by researcher Johnathan Brookshire from MIT, of "teleoperation with constraints." As the name implies, the idea is you impose constraints in how the robot can move its body, especially its arms and hands, and this can help tremendously in accomplishing a variety of tasks that involve motion in a specific direction or plane. It might even help to master chopsticks after all.


A twelve-year-old geek finds a humanoid robot in a dumpster. They become best buddies. It turns out the robot was created by a scientist who, unhappy with the idea of his company using the robot for military applications, had programmed the humanoid to flee. Now the company wants the robot back. This is the plot of Robosapien: Rebooted, a movie so stuffed with cheap CGI and cringe-worthy cliches that it might as well become a cult. To debut sometime this year. 

Via [ io9 ]


Okay, watching four Turtlebot 2s follow this little girl around is just adorable:

[ TurtleBot ]


Nao is a lucky robot. Its owners are always eager to teach it new things. How to tell stories. How to dance. How to be a comedianHow to groom cats. Now the robot is learning, thanks to some patient instruction, how to play golf:

[ Franck Calzada ]


ROS, the Robot Operating System, is steadily making its way into industrial robotics. In the demo below, a Universal Robots UR5 arm and a Motoman SIA20 manipulator collaborate to sort parts. Using 3D sensors, the robots locate, identify, and retrieve the parts, using on-the-fly path planning to perform the task. The cool thing is that two different robots are controlled by a single ROS-Industrial program. The demo was shown at Automate 2013 in Chicago.

[ ROS-Industrial ]

Thanks, Paul!


RoboCup 2013 takes place in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, starting June 26th. Here's a teaser:

[ RoboCup 2013 ]


And here are some German teams getting ready...

[ Berlin United - Nao Team Humboldt ]

Thanks, Thomas!


Australian artist and builder Geoffrey Drake-Brockman wants to create four life-size robot ballerinas and teach them to dance. His previous robotic creations look pretty cool, and we hope he gets the funding for this project as well (check it out on Indiegogo).

[ Coppelia Project on Indiegogo ] 


Swarm Slinky is a project at the Technical University of Madrid. The idea is to build a multi-robot system consisting of six independent units designed to explore difficult terrain. The vid below shows a prototype, built with 3D-printed parts, during a test of one of its locomotion modes.

[ Swarm Slinky ]


Robotis, the Korean company that created the awesome Darwin humanoid and the popular Dynamixel actuators, is launching something called KidsLab. Looks like a robotics kit and course for kids. We don't know what they're saying in the vid below, but we want this!

[ Robotis KidsLab ]


What's this? Yes, in addition to being Video Friday, it's also Audio Friday. On Wednesday, NPR's Talk of the Nation tackled drones and privacy issues, featuring friend o' the blog Ryan Calo. It's half an hour, but definitely worth your time.

[ NPR ]

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