There is most definitely such a thing as too many legs. I get two. I understand four. Even six makes sense. But let's not get crazy, you know? Because however capable a whole bunch of legs might make a robot, its creepiness factor just goes up exponentially. I mean, forget that whole human-like Uncanny Valley thing, let's just go easy on the legs, okay?
Or, you can pull a Harvard, and just totally ignore that with all of your scuttling little insect robots that are probably crawling up your leg right now. Make sure and thoroughly squish all of them, and then wash your hands and come back for the rest of Video Friday.
Sooo, I'm not sure where the rest of the Internet was when we posted about EPFL's cheetah-cub robot a freakin' month and a half ago, but EPFL came out with their own video this week, which I suppose you could say went viral. I can only assume that it's because the more recent video included a real cat, and real cats always win the Internet.
[ EPFL BioRob ]
Harvard has posted a new video of HAMR, the Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot. The video is pretty cool, although the research is a couple years old at this point.
The Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR) is a 1.3g quadrupedal robot manufactured using the PC-MEMS fabrication process and assembled using techniques inspired by pop-up books. Using six piezoelectric actuators, HAMR is capable of tethered locomotion up to 37 cm/s using a 70 Hz gait frequency. In addition, HAMR can successfully carry greater than 1.3g of additional payload, and maneuver using two simple control inputs. A previous prototype integrated power and control to demonstrate autonomous locomotion of a 1.7g walking robot.
This is the previous generation:
And this is the latest I could find, with MOAR LEGS:
Here's the fifth version of CMU's Romibo robot. A little less fuzzy, but a little more mobile:
[ Romibo ]
Raytheon posted a new (old) video of their Phalanx CIWS (close-in weapon system), which is an impressive piece of hardware, able to toss 4,500 armor piercing tungsten rounds at incoming threats every minute. It's in Video Friday because it's an (optionally) fully autonomous armed robot that's been in service since 1980. It's had a few issues, but 30 years of operation is a long, long time, especially for a robot that you'll find on every class of surface ship in the U.S. Navy along with the navies of 24 other nations.
Here's a more recent video of a land-based Phoenix taking out mortars, and as anyone who's ever tried to shoot an incoming mortar round with a bullet from a kilometer away will tell you, this is something that only a robot is going to be able to do, and there simply may not be time for a human to be in the loop.
[ Phalanx ]
Here is a question that everyone considers from time to time: who do you trust to handle your squishy tofu?
The only problem that I see with this is that tofu is not a food. Also, there's a ridiculously bored looking human tasked with replacing the tofu on the conveyor belt. I mean, c'mon, really?
[ Diginfo ]
How does Aldebaran Robotics shape the world? This video explains it, apparently, as long as you speak French. But even if you don't speak French, you can pick up on the important words, like "uniquely mega-fantastic."
This has got to be one of the MOST AWESOME MOMENTS IN ALL OF DIY ROBOTICS:
OH YEAH! Now teach it to catch.
[ YouTube ]
I hate to do this to you, trust me, but there's a video of Rodney Brooks that's worth watching over on the BBC's website, and for the life of me I can't figure out how to embed it. It's worth clicking over, though, because Rodney Brooks is a tremendous speaker, and he's always got interesting stuff to say.
[ BBC ]
The 2012 AUVSI Student UAS competition took place this time last year, but AUVSI has just posted the recap video, and it's worth watching if for no other reason than a bunch of the UAVs undergo amusing failures in the way that only robots can, especially when a bunch of other people are watching:
[ AUVSI SUAS ]
We'll close out the week with a BBC documentary from a couple years ago entitled Where's My Robot? It's on YouTube, and it's probably not supposed to be, so get it while it's hot!
[ BBC ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.