Telexistence Model-T robot
Photo: Telexistence

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!):

CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Online Conference]
ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece
ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
AUVSI EXPONENTIAL 2020 – October 5-8, 2020 – [Online Conference]
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nev., USA
CYBATHLON 2020 – November 13-14, 2020 – [Online Event]
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colo., USA

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

Tokyo startup Telexistence has recently unveiled a new robot called the Model-T, an advanced teleoperated humanoid that can use tools and grasp a wide range of objects. Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart plans to test the Model-T to restock shelves in up to 20 stores by 2022. In the trial, a human “pilot” will operate the robot remotely, handling items like beverage bottles, rice balls, sandwiches, and bento boxes.

With Model-T and AWP, FamilyMart and TX aim to realize a completely new store operation by remoteizing and automating the merchandise restocking work, which requires a large number of labor-hours. As a result, stores can operate with less number of workers and enable them to recruit employees regardless of the store’s physical location.

[ Telexistence ]

Quadruped dance-off should be a new robotics competition at IROS or ICRA.

I dunno though, that moonwalk might keep Spot in the lead...

[ Unitree ]

Through a hybrid of simulation and real-life training, this air muscle robot is learning to play table tennis.

Table tennis requires to execute fast and precise motions. To gain precision it is necessary to explore in this high-speed regimes, however, exploration can be safety-critical at the same time. The combination of RL and muscular soft robots allows to close this gap. While robots actuated by pneumatic artificial muscles generate high forces that are required for e.g. smashing, they also offer safe execution of explosive motions due to antagonistic actuation.

To enable practical training without real balls, we introduce Hybrid Sim and Real Training (HYSR) that replays prerecorded real balls in simulation while executing actions on the real system. In this manner, RL can learn the challenging motor control of the PAM-driven robot while executing ~15000 hitting motions.

[ Max Planck Institute ]

Thanks Dieter!

Anthony Cowley wrote in to share his recent thesis work on UPSLAM, a fast and lightweight SLAM technique that records data in panoramic depth images (just PNGs) that are easy to visualize and even easier to share between robots, even on low-bandwidth networks.

[ UPenn ]

Thanks Anthony!

GITAI’s G1 is the space dedicated general-purpose robot. G1 robot will enable automation of various tasks internally & externally on space stations and for lunar base development.

[ Gitai ]

The University of Michigan has a fancy new treadmill that’s built right into the floor, which proves to be a bit much for Mini Cheetah.

But Cassie Blue won’t get stuck on no treadmill! She goes for a 0.3 mile walk across campus, which ends when a certain someone ran the gantry into Cassie Blue’s foot.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

Some serious quadruped research going on at UT Austin Human Centered Robotics Lab.

[ HCRL ]

Will Burrard-Lucas has spent lockdown upgrading his slightly indestructible BeetleCam wildlife photographing robot.

[ Will Burrard-Lucas ]

Teleoperated surgical robots are becoming commonplace in operating rooms, but many are massive (sometimes taking up an entire room) and are difficult to manipulate, especially if a complication arises and the robot needs to removed from the patient. A new collaboration between the Wyss Institute, Harvard University, and Sony Corporation has created the mini-RCM, a surgical robot the size of a tennis ball that weighs as much as a penny, and performed significantly better than manually operated tools in delicate mock-surgical procedures. Importantly, its small size means it is more comparable to the human tissues and structures on which it operates, and it can easily be removed by hand if needed.

[ Harvard Wyss ]

Yaskawa appears to be working on a robot that can scan you with a temperature gun and then jam a mask on your face?

[ Motoman ]

Maybe we should just not have people working in mines anymore, how about that?

[ Exyn ]

Many current human-robot interactive systems tend to use accurate and fast – but also costly – actuators and tracking systems to establish working prototypes that are safe to use and deploy for user studies. This paper presents an embedded framework to build a desktop space for human-robot interaction, using an open-source robot arm, as well as two RGB cameras connected to a Raspberry Pi-based controller that allow a fast yet low-cost object tracking and manipulation in 3D. We show in our evaluations that this facilitates prototyping a number of systems in which user and robot arm can commonly interact with physical objects.

[ Paper ]

IBM Research is proud to host professor Yoshua Bengio — one of the world’s leading experts in AI — in a discussion of how AI can contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

[ IBM Research ]

Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador interviews Professor Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, of the Department of Systems Innovation, in the Graduate School of Engineering Science, at Osaka University, Japan.

[ ideaXme ]

A CVPR talk from Stanford’s Chelsea Finn on “Generalization in Visuomotor Learning.”

[ Stanford ]

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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