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Video: Drones, Quadrupeds, Humanoids, and More Robots From ICRA 2013

Here are all the robots you may have missed at ICRA conference

1 min read
Video: Drones, Quadrupeds, Humanoids, and More Robots From ICRA 2013

We saw lots of robots at 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Like, seriously, lots of robots. Seriously. For real. This year's event had the largest exhibition hall (with the most real robots) that we've ever seen, and a lot of the interactive presentations featured real robots as well. We got as much of it on video and in pictures as we could, and smushed everything together in a fabulous montage and gallery, just for you.

Let me just preface this video by saying that not all of these robots are actually from ICRA: I've also mixed in robots from ETH Zurich, EPFL, and DLR. We'll have much more from these places, so in the meantime, just think of this as a teaser.

I should also mention that there were even more robots at ICRA than this, and we couldn't manage to get video of every single one of them, try as we might. The video is a taste, but there's of course no substitute for an in-person ICRA experience. 

Also, special thanks to GoPro, who sent us one of their Hero3 cameras to use at ICRA. A bunch of this footage comes from the GoPro, and it let us do things like this:

Just try that with a regular camera! Or a regular dog, for that matter.

As I mentioned above, we still have more coverage on the way from our other European adventures, including ETH Zurich, EPFL, and DLR, so stay tuned.

Read more of our ICRA 2013 coverage here.

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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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