Faboratory at Yale University's soft exoskeleton glove with telescopic extra thumb
Image: Faboratory at Yale University via YouTube

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!):

RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece
ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado

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

Evidently, the folks at Unitree were paying attention to last week’s Video Friday.

[ Unitree ]

RoboSoft 2020 was a virtual conference this year (along with everything else), but they still held a soft robots contest, and here are four short vids—you can watch the rest of them here.

RoboSoft 2020 ]

If you were wondering why SoftBank bought Aldebaran Robotics and Boston Dynamics, here’s the answer.

I am now a Hawks fan. GO HAWKS!

[ Softbank Hawks ] via [ RobotStart ]

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have developed a fully autonomous mobile robot to assist them in their research. Using a type of AI, the robot has been designed to work uninterrupted for weeks at a time, allowing it to analyse data and make decisions on what to do next. Using a flexible arm with customised gripper it can be calibrated to interact with most standard lab equipment and machinery as well as navigate safely around human co-workers and obstacles.

[ Nature ]

Oregon State’s Cassie has been on break for a couple of months, but it’s back in the lab and moving alarmingly quickly.

[ DRL ]

The current situation linked to COVID-19 sadly led to the postponing of this year RoboCup 2020 at Bordeaux. As an official sponsor of The RoboCup, SoftBank Robotics wanted to take this opportunity to thank all RoboCupers and The RoboCup Federation for their support these past 13 years. We invite you to take a look at NAO’s adventure at The RoboCup as the official robot of the Standard Platform League. See you in Bordeaux 2021!

[ RoboCup 2021 ]

Miniature SAW robot crawling inside the intestines of a pig. You’re welcome.

[ Zarrouk Lab ]

The video demonstrates fast autonomous flight experiments in cluttered unknown environments, with the support of a robust and perception-aware replanning framework called RAPTOR. The associated paper is submitted to TRO.


Since we haven’t gotten autonomy quite right yet, there’s a lot of telepresence going on for robots that operate in public spaces. Usually, you’ve got one remote human managing multiple robots, so it would be nice to make that interface a little more friendly, right?

[ HCI Lab ]

Arguable whether or not this is a robot, but it’s cool enough to spend a minute watching.

[ Ishikawa Lab ]

Communication is critical to collaboration; however, too much of it can degrade performance. Motivated by the need for effective use of a robot’s communication modalities, in this work, we present a computational framework that decides if, when, and what to communicate during human-robot collaboration.

[ Interactive Robotics ]

Robotiq has released the next generation of the grippers for collaborative robots: the 2F-85 and 2F-140. Both models gain greater robustness, safety, and customizability while retaining the same key benefits that have inspired thousands of manufacturers to choose them since their launch 6 years ago.

[ Robotiq ]

ANYmal C, the autonomous legged robot designed for industrial challenging environments, provides the mobility, autonomy and inspection intelligence to enable safe and efficient inspection operations. In this virtual showcase, discover how ANYmal climbs stairs, recovers from a fall, performs an autonomous mission and avoids obstacles, docks to charge by itself, digitizes analogue sensors and monitors the environment.

[ ANYbotics ]

At Waymo, we are committed to addressing inequality, and we believe listening is a critical first step toward driving positive change. Earlier this year, five Waymonauts sat down to share their thoughts on equity at work, challenging the status quo, and more. This is what they had to say.

[ Waymo ]

Nice of ABB to take in old robots and upgrade them to turn them into new robots again. Robots forever!

[ ABB ]

It’s nice seeing the progress being made by GITAI, one of the teams competing in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE Challenge, and also meet the humans behind the robots.

[ GITAI ] via [ XPRIZE ]

One more talk from the ICRA Legged Robotics Workshop: Jingyu Liu from DeepRobotics and Qiuguo Zhu from Zhejiang University.

[ Deep Robotics ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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