Video Friday: Support Group for Bots, Russian Humanoid, and ANYmal Quadruped
Image: ETH Zurich via YouTube

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your biped Automaton bloggers. We’re also posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

The Future of Rescue Simulation Workshop – February 29-4, 2016 – Leiden, Netherlands
ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas – March 3-4, 2016 – San Antonio, Texas
HRI 2016 – March 7-10, 2016 – Christchurch, New Zealand
RobArch 2016 – March 14-19, 2016 – Sydney, Australia
RoboCup European Open – March 30-4, 2016 – Eindhoven, Netherlands
WeRobot 2016 – April 1-2, 2016 – Miami, Fla., USA
National Robotics Week – April 2-10, 2016 – United States
AISB HRI Symposium – April 5-6, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
Robotics in Education 2016 – April 14-15, 2016 – Vienna, Austria
LEO Robotics Congress – April 21, 2016 – Eindhoven, Netherlands
International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICARSC 2016 – May 4-6, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
ARMS 2016 – May 9-13, 2016 – Singapore
ICRA 2016 – May 16-21, 2016 – Stockholm, Sweden
Skolkovo Robotics Conference – May 20, 2016 – Skolkovo, Russia
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France

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

This a clever little promotional commercial for IBM’s Watson, with Carrie Fisher and some other people you might recognize:

The best thing about this is that almost all of those robots were physically constructed, not CGI. I love that. And each of them has its own little vignette, which you can see on IBM’s YouTube channel.

[ IBM (YouTube) ]

It’s about 35 kilometers from France to England across the channel, and for the first time, a drone has made the trip. The flight took 72 minutes. Is this the longest (official) non-stop quadrotor flight ever?

[ Ocuair ]

The human-scale version of KAIST’s PIBOT, which we saw practicing simulated take-offs and landings in a real light aircraft cockpit, has learned to use flaps and landing gear:


The Russians have an anti-tank multicopter drone (!).

I don’t think I’ll be driving my tank to Russia anytime soon.

[ RT ]

If that Russian quadrotor didn’t scare you, how about this sinister-looking humanoid robot?

Supposedly, this thing will eventually be headed to the ISS to do work up there. And you know what that means: INTERNATIONAL HUMANOID ROBOT SPACE COMBAT.

[ ] via [ RT ]

Chris Atkeson has been working on robots at CMU for a long, long time. This week, he posted a bunch of old videos, including the Sarcos humanoid doing some juggling and walking on hammers:

There’s also video of LittleDog taking little steps over little rocks:

And, uh, this:

I’m not sure I even want to know. Actually, that’s a lie, I desperately want to know.

[ Chris Atkeson ]

A big round of applause for Simone Giertz’ latest robotic creation, guaranteed to make your life more chaotic:

[ Simone Giertz ]

There’s a lot of strategy behind autonomous mini-sumo robots, and there’s nobody more qualified to discuss it than Gundars Miezitis, a world champion:

I like the idea of having a standardized platform for autonomous sumo robots, so that winning is dependent clever programming rather than just clever design. It sounds like a kit for this robot should be showing up on Kickstarter soon.

[ Sumo Boy ]

I’ve been enjoying watching Thom Gibson’s video series on teaching a middle school robotics class in Austin, Texas:

“Robots are, like, smart and stupid at the same time.” This kid knows what’s up.

[ Thom Gibson ]

The first episode of Drone Racing League isn’t bad, I guess, once you skip past all of the non-racing parts and ignore the commentary:

[ DRL ]

This is a “compilation video of all the spherical tensegrity robots in the BEST Lab, as a demo for Google on Dec. 2nd 2015.”

It’s cool to see how these tensegrity robots will be able to carry a stabilized payload, even if the gimbal is only a mockup at this point.

[ BEST Lab ]

It’s unclear whether Northrop Grumman will get much more government funding for the X-47B, so enjoy videos like these while you can:

[ Northrop Grumman ]

We met ETH Zurich’s ANYmal last week, and here’s some additional video of it walking, trotting, and climbing some stairs:

[ ETH Zurich ] via [ RoboHub ]

Here’s the championship match of the ROBO-ONE Light 12th Biped Robot Fight Tournament:

More matches at the link below.

[ Biped Robot News ]

Adam Bry, CEO of Skydio, gave last week’s CMU RI seminar on algorithms and challenges in scaling up autonomous flight:

[ CMU RI ]

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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