Video Friday: SpaceX's Double Booster Landing, Drone Taxi, and Robot Haka

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read

Evan Ackerman is IEEE Spectrum’s robotics editor.

Erico Guizzo is IEEE Spectrum's Digital Innovation Director.

SpaceX's double booster rocket landing
Photo: SpaceX

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!):

International Symposium on Medical Robotics – March 1-3, 2018 – Atlanta, Ga., USA
HRI 2018 – March 5-8, 2018 – Chicago, Ill., USA
NASA Swarmathon – April 17-19, 2018 – Kennedy Space Center, Fla., USA
RoboSoft 2018 – April 24-28, 2018 – Livorno, Italy
ICARSC 2018 – April 25-27, 2018 – Torres Vedras, Portugal
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 14-18, 2018 – Kennedy Space Center, Fla., USA
ICRA 2018 – May 21-25, 2018 – Brisbane, Australia

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

It’s only February, and the most stupefyingly incredible display of autonomous robotics we’ll see all year has almost certainly happened already:

The center core didn’t manage to make it back to the drone ship, but damn, that double landing of the boosters was epic, and that’s not a word I use very often. Here’s one more video of the boosters landing, which I think must have been taken from the top of a launch tower at KSC. The double sonic boom is nuts.

[ SpaceX ]

Here are a couple of old videos from Matt Mason at CMU. The first is of a “Mobipulator,” which was presented at ICRA 2003, and is a robot with wheels that are also manipulators for paper on a desktop.

And this second video is a “water bomb bot” from 1996 (!). It speaks for itself.

[ Matt Mason ]

From this...

To this...

I bet ANYmal doesn’t feel nearly so friendly towards the humans it’s working with, if they insist on doing this:

Next time, program that robot to kick back.

[ ANYmal ]

Thanks Péter!

The EHANG 184 drone taxi has successfully made some manned flight tests, so that’s a thing now:

I still think this is a bad idea, because I’m not convinced that there is a safe enough failure mode. In a fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter, you have some control authority even if everything fails on you. This drone will have zero. So, you pop the ballistic parachute, which is great, but if it’s being used as an urban taxi, things could go very badly. Imagine the drone having some sort of computer hissy fit while you’re flying above downtown San Francisco, how much fun do you think an uncontrolled parachute landing is really going to be?

[ Ehang ] via [ Engadget ]

Pepper does the waaave!

[ TheAmazel ]

A tiny robot is making leaps and bounds for small-scale locomotion. This soft robot really can walk the walk, as well as being able to roll, jump and swim. This could help it navigate the surprisingly tough terrain inside a human body.

I’m skeptical as to whether this really qualifies as a robot, but we’ll let it slide.

[ Nature ]

An ABB Yumi programmed by Haden & Custance, an automation design firm with a presence in New Zealand, demonstrates how every two-armed robot should start itself up: with a haka.

A haka is a traditional Māori dance that can be used, among other things, as a challenge. It’s been popularized internationally by the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks, who have been striking fear into opposing teams with it since 1905:

[ Haden & Custance ]

The Tension Actuated in Space MANipulator (TALISMAN) is an improbably long arm under development at NASA Langley for constructing structures in space:

TALISMAN is just one component of the Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Servicing (CIRAS). In this demonstration, the team manipulated the newer, longer arm back and forth from folded to extended positions to demonstrate that it is fully operational and ready for more comprehensive testing.

Future tests include not only a series of demonstrations exercising TALISMAN’s ability to move and manipulate objects along a truss, but also a demonstration of the NASA Intelligent Jigging and Assembly Robot (NINJAR) and the Strut Assembly, Manufacturing, Utility & Robotic Aid (SAMURAI) building two truss bays from pieces. TALISMAN moves SAMURAI, which is like the hand that brings truss segments to NINJAR, the robotic jig that holds the truss segments in place perfectly at 90 degrees while they are permanently fastened using electron beam welding to join together 3D printed titanium truss corner joints to titanium fittings at the strut ends.

[ NASA ]

Piaggio Fast Forward’s Gita mobile thing-carrier has been exploring L.A.:

I like how the dog is on a leash and the robot isn’t.

[ PFF ]


And yet, one of them still manages to plow into a tree.

[ Husqvarna ]

Ben Goldberg, whose HAMR-F robot we wrote about this week, has a few other gems on his YouTube channel, including this skateboarding half pipe routine performed by a CataLyst 5 robot arm system:

This was Ben’s final project for “Engineering Sciences 259: Intro to Robotics” at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and we assume that he did pretty well on it.

[ Ben Goldberg ]

Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany, is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world, producing films since 1912 – but it has now entered a new era of sculpting film props using KUKA robots to conduct the milling of large foam blocks into works of art. The robot provides high accuracy and repeatability even when milling complex geometries and allows for a complete digital workflow by precisely transferring 3D models made on the computer to real-life sculptures.

[ Studio Babelsberg ] via [ Kuka ]

Mint collector’s coins are untouched by human hands, so they have to package them with robots, obviously.

The robots are cool, but what’s also cool are all of the automated support systems, like those platforms that tilt to so that the coins all slide down to the right spots for picking.

[ Fanuc ]

Pollen Robotics “creates advanced systems involving robotics and AI every day, but we strive to hide all technicalities under a neat design and comprehensive user experience – so only the purpose of the robotic object is emphasised.”

Not sure I get what they do, but those lamps are cool.

[ Pollen Robotics ]

In this week’s episode of Robotis in Depth, Per interviews Peter Corke from Queensland University of Technology.

In this interview, Peter talks about how serendipity made him build a checkers playing robot and then move on to robotics and machine vision. We get to hear about how early experiments with "Blob Vision" got him interested in analyzing images and especially moving images. The interview ends with Peter adding a new item to the CV, fashion model, when he shows us the ICRA 2018 T-shirt!

[ Robots in Depth ]

The Conversation (0)