Video Friday: This Drone Is a Flying Tray for Your Smart Home

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

5 min read
TrayDrone delivery drone
Researchers from Stuttgart Media University and TU Darmstadt in Germany created the TrayDrone concept to explore the use of a "flying tray for micro payload deliveries in the context of the smart home."
Image: TrayDrone 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!):

Nîmes Robotics Festival – May 17-19, 2019 – Nîmes, France
Isolierband Robotics Competition – May 19, 2019 – Israel
ICRA 2019 – May 20-24, 2019 – Montreal, Canada
URC 2019 – May 30-1, 2019 – Hanksville, Utah, USA
2nd Annual Robotics Summit & Expo – June 4-6, 2019 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICUAS 2019 – June 11-14, 2019 – Atlanta, Ga., USA
Energy Drone Coalition Summit – June 12-13, 2019 – Woodlands, Texas, USA
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K.
ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland
MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland

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

We have so many questions about this.

The project, called TrayDrone, was conceived by Jürgen Scheible from Stuttgart Media University and Markus Funk from TU Darmstadt in Germany. They presented their findings at the International Workshop on Human-Drone Interaction earlier this month. Here’s the abstract:

The vision of using drones for instant delivery is not very far out anymore. Press releases from companies like Amazon are already suggesting that this technology will re-define the last hop of delivery to end users. This paper explores this concept in a much smaller scale: The use of a flying tray for micro payload deliveries in the context of the smart home, in particular the kitchen. We built a custom made drone that carries a roundly shaped tray that can carry up to 1 kg payload. In this paper, we share our experience of deploying our TrayDrone prototype in a kitchen booth at an international kitchen fair. Our findings underline the convenience of TrayDrone but also identify issues that need improvement.

[ Paper ]

Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 is kind of looking like it might just be able to give SpotMini a serious quadrupedal run for its money.

[ Ghost Robotics ]

Misty celebrates May 4th with some of her closest Star Wars friends.

In other Misty news, here’s how she can work with Microsoft Azure:

[ Misty Robotics ]

If you’re going to make a robot display any sort of hologram at all, the rules say that the hologram must be of Princess Leia.

In LightBee, a person’s head and head movements are captured using 3D video cameras. In the remote space, a drone with a cylindrical projection surface flies within a ring of 45 smart projectors. A lightfield, or hologram, is projected onto the retroreflective surface of the drone, making the head appear in 3D as if existing inside the drone. The hologram can be walked around and viewed from all sides simultaneously by multiple users in the remote space - much like Star War’s Princess Leia, or the LightBee hologram in the British Sci-Fi show “Red Dwarf”, after which the system was named.

[ Human Media Lab ]

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge is headed to Pittsburgh for the Tunnel Circuit, the first scored challenge event, August 15-22, 2019! Qualified teams will attempt to navigate a former operational mine.

[ DARPA SubT ]

CMU, the University of Tokyo, and Waseda University have been working on this robotic(ish) suitcase that can help visually-impaired folks get around airports:

"When you get a five- or six-hour layover and you need to get something to eat or use the restrooms, that is a major hassle," said one legally blind traveler who participated in a focus group as part of the research. "It would be lovely to be able to get up and move around and do things that you need to do and maybe want to do."

In tests at the airport, six blind participants each wheeled BBeep with one hand and used a white cane in the other as they maneuvered through crowded areas. They were asked to walk five similar routes in three modes — one where the suitcase gave no warnings, another in which the warnings could only be heard by the user through a headset and another in which warnings were played through a speaker. A researcher followed each participant to make sure no one was injured. The researchers said the speaker mode proved most effective, both in reducing the number of pedestrians at risk of imminent collision and in reducing the number of pedestrians in the user’s path.

[ CMU ]

This game of tic-tac-toe is awfully cute.

Pollen Robotics does lots of other stuff too, of varying degrees of weirdness:

[ Pollen Robotics ]

Michael and Susan Leigh Anderson (Machine Ethics) and Vincent Berenz (Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems) have programmed a SoftBank Nao robot with a set of values that determines its behavior while aiding a person in a simulated eldercare environment.

[ Paper ]

Thanks Michael!

In Langley’s Makerspace Lab, interns Chuck Sullivan and Jack Fitzpatrick are developing a series of soft robot actuators by 3D printing flexible silicone molds. While in the early stages of their research, the pair is looking at a series of properties to understand how actuators can be built and used in space.

[ NASA ]

This paper presents an omnidirectional aerial manipulation platform for robust and responsive interaction with unstructured environments, toward the goal of contact-based inspection. The fully actuated tilt-rotor aerial system is equipped with a rigidly mounted end-effector, and is able to exert a 6 degree of freedom force and torque, decoupling the system’s translational and rotational dynamics, and enabling precise interaction with the environment while maintaining stability.

[ ASL ]

And now, this.

I don’t know what this arm is actually for, but since it’s being developed by the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute, it’s probably not fanning people.


Robot keyboard musicians play Axel F Beverly Hills Cop Theme at SXSW 2019.

Surely they meant to say Crazy Frog theme, right?

[ Kuka ]

This tiny humanoid robot is so tiny and I love it!

As Fan points out, this looks a bit like one of Schaft’s designs, doesn’t it?

[ Twitter ]

Need a hand? Or two? RightHand Robotics has you covered.

[ RightHand Robotics ]

Since plants really aren’t good for much on their own, MIT is cyborgizing them.

[ MIT Media Lab ]

Here are a few videos summarizing the results of the ImPACT Tough Robotics Challenge, which took place in Japan late last year.

It wasn’t just robots, either: There were also “cyber rescue canines,” rescue dogs outfitted with technology to help them be more effective.

[ ImPACT ]

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