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Video Friday: Soft Robot Challenge, Marshmallow Automation, and Dancing Hubo

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

SNUMAX soft robot
Photo: SNU Biorobotics Lab

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your dance-challenged Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

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
Dynamic Walking 2016 – June 4-7, 2016 – Holland, Mich., USA
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
ICROM 2016 – June 23-25, 2016 – Singapore
UK Robotics Week – June 25-1, 2016 – United Kingdom
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 25-28, 2016 – London, England
TAROS 2016 – June 28-30, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdon
RoboCup 2016 – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
Amazon Picking Challenge – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany

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

SNUMAX is a “multi-functional soft robot” developed by Seoul National University’s Biorobotics Laboratory, which won the RoboSoft Grand Challenge this year. It has transformable wheels that fold like origami, a trunk-like soft manipulator, and a gripper that looks like a miniature bar stool:

[ SNU Biorobotics ] via [ RoboSoft Challenge ]

“Boomf is the noise a marshmallow makes when it falls through your letterbox and lands on your doormat.”

I learned something today!

Boomf co-founder and bearded dude James Middleton, by the way, is the brother of Princess Kate.

[ Boomf ] via [ ABB ]

Since winning the DARPA Robotics Challenge, HUBO has quit its job as a search-and-rescue robot and is now enjoying its fame and fortune:

Actually, that’s HUBO2, which is clearly piggybacking on the celebrity status of its younger and harder working brother, DRC-HUBO.


DHL’s Parcelcopter 3.0 system doesn’t look like it has much in the way of sense and avoid, but that’s okay, because it’s not designed for urban delivery, it’s doing high-value point-to-point delivery in remote areas. Their new drone docking station is particularly clever, and solves a bunch of the problems related to those final few meters:

[ DHL ]

Furfur is a robotic pet, designed to create feelings of closeness and togetherness for couples in long-distance relationships. Over a period of 200 days, the first author developed different versions of Furfur and applied it to his own long-distance relationship in the sense of an autobiographical design exploration. The paper summarizes key findings and reflects upon the design process itself.

I want one of these. And the best part is, with some clever programming, you’ll never know that there isn’t really someone on the other end!


[ CHI 2016 ]

Waseda University’s Disaster Response Climbing Robot is very good at using ladders, even if it could also use a couple zip-ties for all those cables:

And what does it do when it gets to the top? Here’s a catwalk transition:

[ Waseda University ]

Landing gear? Where we’re going, we don’t need landing gear:

An unmanned, electric, autonomous aircraft travelling at 75 kilometres per hour lands gently on the roof of a moving car. For the first time, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have successfully demonstrated a technique developed for this purpose. The system could be applied to ultralight solar-powered aircraft that complement conventional satellite systems while flying in the stratosphere. Eliminating the landing gear significantly increases the payload capability of a solar-powered aircraft – it is easier to land during crosswind conditions, making landings in unfavourable weather conditions possible.

[ DLR ]

At Hannover Fair in Germany this year, KUKA brought an entire “Industry 4.0” smart factory to make custom phone cases for visitors:

[ KUKA ]

If you really want to freak people out, try this with a long sleeve shirt on:

There have been plenty of experiments with the MYO gesture control armband being used for jogging robot arms, but this is one of the first works with two MYO devices. Each of the two armbands are used only for detecting orientation, thus allowing the calculation of the position of the operator’s wrist. One of the armbands is also used for gesture recognition. The control is made possible thanks to ABB’s EGM (Externally Guided Motion). Singularities and joint limits are automatically avoided.

[ CoRo ]

WowWee’s CHiP robot dog is no AIBO, but it can respond to voice commands and is still pretty cute for $200.

Also, if you remove the batteries, CHiP can be taught to play dead


[ WowWee ]

These maneuvers that the ANYmal quadruped is making are a demo of Free Gait, a “framework for the versatile control of legged robots,” but all I see are dance moves:

My favorite part is how much its head wiggles.

[ ANYmal ]


Damn, PR2. Put some clothes on!

[ Clearpath Robotics ]

A dude on YouTube who may or may not be named Freddy built a little robot tank with a Google Cardboard-based VR system:

[ YouTube ] via [ Reddit ]

A research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) led by Professor Hyun Myung of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department developed an unmanned aerial vehicle, named the Fireproof Aerial RObot System (FAROS), which detects fires in skyscrapers, searches the inside of the building, and transfers data in real time from fire scenes to the ground station.

The FAROS, whose movements rely on a quadrotor system, can freely change its flight mode into a spider’s crawling on walls, and vice versa, facilitating unimpeded navigation in the labyrinth of narrow spaces filled with debris and rubble inside the blazing building.


A robot rocket from SpaceX nails a second autonomous barge landing:

[ SpaceX ]

DO-IT is a program at the University of Washington that “empowers students with disabilities to succeed in challenging fields of study.” Last year, Maya Cakmak and Sarah Elliot from the Human-Centered Robotics Lab helped them teach a TurtleBot to do something useful, which is something that I have still not managed to do.

[ UW HCR Lab ] via [ DO-IT Scholars Program ]

Ricardo Dias writes:

“I’m team-leader of the CAMBADA team - robotics soccer team from University of Aveiro, Portugal. I’m reaching you to share a video which contains the highlights of the Middle-Size League Final match between CAMBADA and Tech United in the Portuguese Robotics Open. During the game, robots are not remote-controlled and humans are not allowed to touch the keyboard or make changes - the robots are completely autonomous, taking decisions and coordinating themselves to achieve a common goal - in this case, to play football.”


Thanks Ricardo!

Angela Schoellig is a professor at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) and associate director of the Center for Aerial Robotics Research and Education (CARRE). Angela conducts research at the interface of robotics, controls and machine learning. Her goal is to enhance the performance and autonomy of robots by enabling them to learn from past experiments and from each other.

[ TEDxUofT ]

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