Video Friday: Drone Touchdown, Giant RoboCrab, and Sphero Invades Japan

A Video Wednesday last week means an extra massive Video Friday this week!

3 min read
Video Friday: Drone Touchdown, Giant RoboCrab, and Sphero Invades Japan

With breaking news about giant and expensive humanoid robots from DARPA, it's sometimes easy to forget that the world is full of other amazing robots, isn't it?

Of course it isn't! That's exactly why we have Video Friday.

The other piece of breaking news about giant and expensive robots this week was all about the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV). We've been following this seriously badass looking robotic airplane for years, and if you haven't been, here's some background:

Launching is easy. The hard part is landing, but this week, the X-47B pulled it off flawlessly:

So what happens now? Obviously, now that everything works, the project is over and the X-47Bs are heading to museums (sigh). The technical accomplishments will get passed on to the next generation of UCAV, called UCLASS ("Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike") for which proposals will be solicited soon. A bigger, badassier X-47B may be a contender for the UCLASS program, as well as robotic aircraft from the likes of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

[ Northrop Grumman ]



OSRF got themselves a Baxter, and did a time-lapse unboxing video:

What I want to know is what they did with it after the camera was turned off.

[ OSRF ]



It's the RoboCup 2013 Standard Platform Final: Germany vs. Germany. Spoiler alert. Germany wins.

You know what? Humanoids, schmumanoids! Bring on the middleweights and LET'S SEE SOME ACTION! Here's the Middle-Size League Final of RoboCup 2013: Tech United Eindhoven from the Netherlands up against Team Water from China.

[ RoboCup 2013 ]



Chillax with a flight around Murano, Team Blacksheep suggests. Sure, why not.

[ Team Blacksheep ]



Um, Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013?

This would be more fun if you only got the sensor inputs from the Roomba itself, and you tried to clean rooms based on that alone. Harder than it looks, I bet.

[ Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013 ]



GROVER, the Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, also known as the Greenland Rover, also known as the most adorable little snowbot evar, has been managing not to die up in the cold northern wilderness:




Ever had a nightmare about giant robotic crabs? Now is the perfect time to start:

Here's what it may eventually get up to:

If this thing ever gets as agile as the concept video promises, I really will start screaming.

[ KIOST ] via [ Gizmag ]



Cubelets? Cubelets. Cubelets!

[ Modular Robotics ]



It's been a little while since we've had a micromouse video, so here's a micromouse video, of the 2013 UK finals:

Via [ Robots Dreams ]



"The Nanins are the newest robots of the Naro family. This edutainment robot teaches kids about many things in biology and physics and shall motivate and raise their interests in robotics and research."

Yes. It shall!

Sooo, how do I get one for my bathtub?

[ Naro ]



I have no idea what these Kilobots are up to, but I don't like it. There's just too many of them.

[ Kilobots ]



According to the official Sphero YouTube channel, what you are about to see is a "actually an early Sphero prototype." 

If you have a Sphero in your home, do not panic. Simply contact your nearest Mechagodzilla provider, and then prepare to spend the next several days in the nearest nuclear fallout shelter. If you don't know where your nearest nuclear fallout shelter is, then you may panic.

[ Sphero ]

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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