Video Friday: Spot Meets BTS

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read
Spot meets BTS

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 2021 – July 12-16, 2021 – [Online Event]
Humanoids 2020 – July 19-21, 2021 – [Online Event]
RO-MAN 2021 – August 8-12, 2021 – [Online Event]
DARPA SubT Finals – September 21-23, 2021 – Louisville, KY, USA
WeRobot 2021 – September 23-25, 2021 – Coral Gables, FL, USA
IROS 2021 – September 27-1, 2021 – [Online Event]
ROSCon 2021 – October 21-23, 2021 – New Orleans, LA, USA

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

I will never understand why video editors persist in adding extra noise to footage of actual robots that makes them sound like they are badly designed and/or are broken.

11 million people now think that's what Spot actually sounds like.

[ Hyundai ]

For one brief exciting moment this looks like a Spot with five arms.

[ Boston Dynamics ]

Researchers from Baidu Research and the University of Maryland have developed a robotic excavator system that integrates perception, planning, and control capabilities to enable material loading over a long duration with no human intervention.

[ Baidu ]

The Robotics and Perception Group and the University of Zurich present one of the world’s largest indoor drone-testing arenas. Equipped with a real-time motion-capture system consisting of 36 Vicon cameras, and with a flight space of over 30x30x8 meters (7,000 cubic meters), this large research infrastructure allows us to deploy our most advanced perception, learning, planning, and control algorithms to push vision-based agile drones to speeds over 60 km/h and accelerations over 5g.

[ RPG ]

Jump navigation for Mini Cheetah from UC Berkeley.

[ UC Berkeley ]

NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a historic group selfie with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on April 6, 2021. But how was the selfie taken? Vandi Verma, Perseverance’s chief engineer for robotic operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California breaks down the process in this video.

[ NASA ]

I am like 95% sure that Heineken's cooler robot is mostly just a cut down Segway Ninebot.

[ Heineken ]

Wing has a new airspace safety and authorization app called OpenSky. It is not good in the same way that all of these airspace safety and authorization apps are not good: they only provide airspace information, and do not provide any guidance on other regulations that may impact your ability to fly a drone, while simultaneously making explicit suggestions about how all you need to fly is a green checkmark in the app, which is a lie.

At least it's free, I guess.

[ OpenSky ]

Interesting approach to conveyors from Berkshire Grey.

Where do I get one of them flower cows?

[ OpenSky ]

The idea behind RoboCup has always been to challenge humans at some point, and one of the first steps towards that is being able to recognize humans and what they're doing on the field.

[ Tech United Eindhoven ]

Sawyer is still very much around, but very much in Germany.

[ Rethink Robotics ]

The VoloDrone, Volocopter's heavy-lift and versatile cargo drone, is fully electric, can transport a 200 kg payload up to 40 km, and has 18 rotors and motors powering the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. This innovative urban air mobility solution for intracity logistics will operate within Volocopter's UAM ecosystem for cities. 

[ Volocopter ]

Our technology can be used for remote maintenance tasks—perfect for when you can’t get on-site either because it’s too far, too dangerous or inaccessible. The system increases your speed of response to faults and failures which saves time, money and reputation. In this clip, our engineer is controlling the robot hands from a distance to plug in and take out a USB from its port.

In this clip, our engineer is controlling the robot hands from a distance to plug in and take out a USB from its port. How much extra for a robotic system that can insert a USB plug the correct way every time?

[ Shadow ]

Takenaka Corporation is one of five major general contractors in Japan. The company is welding structural columns in skyscrapers. Fraunhofer IPA developed a prototype and software for autonomous robotic welding on construction sites. The included robot programming system is based on ROS for collision-avoidance, laser-scanner based column localization and tool-changer handling.

[ Fraunhofer ]

Thanks, Jennifer!

In the near future, mixed traffic consisting of manual and autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be common. Questions surrounding how vulnerable road users such as pedestrians in wheelchairs (PWs) will make crossing decisions in these new situations are underexplored. We conducted a remote co-design study with one of the researchers of this work who has the lived experience as a powered wheelchair user and applied inclusive design practices.

[ Paper ]

The IEEE RAS Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee recently completed a several year study of gender representation in conference leading roles at RAS-supported conferences. Individuals who hold these roles select organizing committees, choose speakers, and make final decisions on paper acceptances. The authors lead a discussion about the findings and the story behind the study. In addition to presenting detailed data and releasing anonymized datasets for further study, the authors provided suggestions on changes to help ensure a more diverse and representative robotics community where anyone can thrive.

[ WIE ]

Service robots are entering all kinds of business areas, and the outbreak of COVID-19 speeds up their application. Many studies have shown that robots with matching gender-occupational roles receive larger acceptance. However, this can also enlarge the gender bias in society. In this paper, we identified gender norms embedded in service robots by iteratively coding 67 humanoid robot images collected from the Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba.

[ Paper ]

Systems with legs and arms are becoming increasingly useful and applicable in real world scenarios. So far, in particular for locomotion, most control approaches have focused on using simplified models for online motion and foothold generation. This approach has its limits when dealing with complex robots that are capable of locomotion and manipulation. In this presentation I will show how we apply MPC for locomotion and manipulation with different variants of our quadrupedal robot ANYmal.

[ CMU ]

Thanks, Fan!

Pieter Abbeel's CVPR 2021 Keynote: Towards a General Solution for Robotics.

[ Pieter Abbeel ]

In this Weekly Robotics Meetup, Achille Verheye explains how he stumbled upon a very niche class of robots called cuspidal robots, capable of making singularity-avoiding moves while creating motion planning algorithms.

[ Weekly Robotics ]

Thanks, Mat!

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

“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.

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

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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