Video Friday: Walker X

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

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.

UBTECH Robotics, a global leader in intelligent humanoid robotics and AI technologies, today unveiled Walker X, the latest version of its groundbreaking bipedal humanoid robot. With significant improvement in physical performance, autonomous intelligence and human to robot interactions, Walker X took another step closer to becoming the gold standard in humanoid robotics.

This looks like a solid upgrade, with a 3 km/h top speed, “complex terrain navigation,” 3 kg of payload per hand, and UBTECH’s promise that the robot is compliant and safe to be around. But we’re not entirely sure what it actually, um, does, you know?


Everyone should be able to get into the game. Luna’s story inspired us to build: CHAMP. A robot that will bring kids who otherwise could not participate onto the field with US Soccer players all year.

The robot is based on OhmniLabs' platform (which we reviewed a while back), in partnership with Volkswagen.

[ US Soccer ]

Thanks, Joseph!

This tail-less gecko robot from IBSS, NUAA in China dynamically adjusts its climbing gait depending on how steep of a slope it’s trying to climb up.

It can avoid obstacles while climbing, too:

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Poramate!

GE Research’s Robotics team successfully demonstrated the feasibility of its bio-inspired soft robot design for rapid and efficient tunnel digging through a year and a half, $2.5 million project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Underminer program. The team built and demonstrated a prototype that autonomously and continuously tunneled underground at GE’s Research campus in Niskayuna NY at a comparable distance to existing, commercially available trenchless technologies.

[ GE Research ]

Personally I wouldn't have chosen tree trimming as an ideal example of the kinds of intricate and dangerous tasks that the Sarcos Guardian XT is good for, but here it is anyway.

[ Sarcos ]

This summer, students from ETH Zurich will test various technologies on the river Limmat for the automatic removal of waste. The Autonomous River Cleanup project is starting with rivers to tackle the global problem of marine pollution.

[ ETH Zurich ]

Thanks, Fan!

The robotic arm on the China Space Station (CSS) is designed to help astronauts perform extravehicular activities. The space station arm is attached to the Tianhe core module, the first and main component of the CSS.

[ CMS ]

Thanks, Fan!

Tencent is working on some stylish gaits for a simulated quadruped.

Looks like this'll be an IROS paper in the fall.

[ Tencent ]

Thanks, Fan!

Dipper is an aerial-aquatic hybrid vehicle, capable of controlled motion in air and underwater. Dipper is a lightweight fixed-wind UAV with actively swept wings that achieves dynamic transitions between the two media. The vehicle has only one main propulsion motor, and uses a novel clutch system to engage either the front tractor propeller for flight in air, or the rear ship's screw propeller for underwater propulsion.

[ Dipper ]

For when you need to pipette something suuuper toxic, I guess?

[ Shadow ]

Some robotics companies look for ways to integrate autonomous systems into warehouses with a minimal amount of infrastructure. Ocado is not one of those companies.

I’m not sure that the question of whether this is one robot or many robots is all that relevant, to be honest. It’s a robotic system, and you can define robotic systems to be whatever you feel like, more or less.

[ Ocado ]

The European Robotic Arm (ERA) will be launched to the International Space Station together with the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, called “Nauka.” ERA is the first robot able to “walk” around the Russian segment of the Space Station.

[ ESA ]

Fotokite Sigma provides public safety teams with mission-critical situational awareness from elevated perspectives. Fotokite’s actively tethered UAS (unmanned aerial system) saves team resources by launching, flying, and landing with the single push of a button; no piloting necessary. Fotokite Sigma is authorized and recognized by aviation authorities as a safer alternative to traditional tethered drone and free-flying public safety drone systems.

[ Fotokite ]

I know this is jut an end effector for making gloves on a Kuka arm, but if you were designing a robot to slap people in the face, this is exactly what it would look like.

[ Kuka ]

Vector 2.0 is still in the works at Digital Dream Labs, the new owners of Anki.

[ Vector ]

Pepper may not be in production anymore, but it’s still in active use, is supported, and is available for purchase.

[ RobotLab ]

Black in Robotics advocates for more diversity and inclusion in robotics, and helps to boost the voices of under-represented minorities in our field. If you missed this series of three videos that were part of the IROS program, they’re now on YouTube, and we’ve got them here for you.

[ Black in Robotics ]

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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