Category Archives: Human Robots
These Creepy Fake Humans Represent a New Age in AI
Karen Hao | MIT Technology Review
“[The simulated humans] are synthetic data designed to feed the growing appetite of deep-learning algorithms. Firms like Datagen offer a compelling alternative to the expensive and time-consuming process of gathering real-world data. They will make it for you: how you want it, when you want—and relatively cheaply.”
For $2,700, You Too Can Have Your Very Own Robotic Dog
Victoria Song | Gizmodo
“You’re probably familiar with Spot, Boston Dynamics’ highly advanced, nightmare-inducing robot dog. And while it went on sale last year, few of us have an extra $74,500 lying around to buy one. However, Chinese firm Unitree Robotics has a similar quadruped bot that’s not only a fraction of the size, but it also starts at a mere $2,700. For an advanced robot dog, that’s actually pretty dang affordable.”
Terran R Rocket From Relativity Space Will Be Completely 3D Printed, Completely Reusable
Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum
“This week, Relativity Space is announcing the Terran R, a 65 meter tall entirely 3D-printed two stage launch vehicle capable of delivering 20,000 kg into low Earth orbit and then returning all of its bits and pieces safely back to the ground to be launched all over again. Relativity Space’s special sauce is that they 3D print as close to absolutely everything as they possibly can, reducing the part count of their rockets by several orders of magnitude.”
Wake Forest Teams Win a NASA Prize for 3D Printing Human Liver Tissue
A. Tarantola | Engadget
“i‘I cannot overstate what an impressive accomplishment this is. When NASA started this challenge in 2016, we weren’t sure there would be a winner,’ Jim Reuter, NASA associate administrator for space technology, said in a recent press statement. ‘It will be exceptional to hear about the first artificial organ transplant one day and think this novel NASA challenge might have played a small role in making it happen.’i”
How Risky Is It to Send Jeff Bezos to Space?
Eric Niiler | Wired
“The rich-guy space race between Bezos and Branson (SpaceX’s Elon Musk is the odd man out for now) may convince other well-heeled space tourists who want assurances that a rocket ride is both fun and safe. But experts note that space travel is always risky, even when spacecraft have undergone years of testing. Blue Origin’s flight will be its first launch with human passengers; previous flights have only carried a mannequin. For Virgin Galactic, it will be only the second time the rocket plane has carried people.”
OpenAI Claims to Have Mitigated Bias and Toxicity in GPT-3
Kyle Wiggers | VentureBeat
“In a study published today, OpenAI, the lab best known for its research on large language models, claims it’s discovered a way to improve the ‘behavior’ of language models with respect to ethical, moral, and societal values. The approach, OpenAI says, can give developers the tools to dictate the tone and personality of a model depending on the prompt that the model’s given.”
Neuroscientists Have Discovered a Phenomenon That They Can’t Explain
Ed Yong | The Atlantic
“Put it this way: The neurons that represented the smell of an apple in May and those that represented the same smell in June were as different from each other as those that represent the smells of apples and grass at any one time. …’Scientists are meant to know what’s going on, but in this particular case, we are deeply confused. We expect it to take many years to iron out,’ [said neuroscientists Carl Schoonover].”
Global Banking Regulators Call for Toughest Rules for Cryptocurrencies
Kalyeena Makortoff | The Guardian
“The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which consists of regulators from the world’s leading financial centres, is proposing a ‘new conservative prudential treatment’ for crypto-assets that would force banks to put aside enough capital to cover 100% of potential losses. That would be the highest capital requirement of any asset, illustrating that cryptocurrencies and related investments are seen as far more risky and volatile than conventional stocks or bonds.”
DNA Jumps Between Species. Nobody Knows How Often.
Christie Wilcox | Quanta
“Recent studies of a range of animals—other fish, reptiles, birds and mammals—point to a similar conclusion: The lateral inheritance of DNA, once thought to be exclusive to microbes, occurs on branches throughout the tree of life.”
Italy’s Failed Digital Democracy Dream Is a Warning
Michele Barbero | Wired UK
“Aside from the Five Star’s shortcomings and latest woes, however, citizens’ direct participation in party politics by means of digital tools is likely to pick up pace in the near future. ‘We are going to see more and more the use of the internet to delegate powers to party members,’ says D’Alimonte: ‘The internet is changing the functioning of democracy, we are just at the beginning.’i”
Image Credit: baikang yuan / Unsplash Continue reading
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!):
RoboCup 2021 – June 22-28, 2021 – [Online Event]
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.
The MQ-25 T1 test asset has flown into the history books as the first unmanned aircraft to ever refuel another aircraft—piloted or autonomous—during flight.
[ Boeing ]
WomBot is an exploratory robot for monitoring wombat burrows, and the press release for it included this rather disappointing video of WomBot discovering a wombat in its burrow.
Apparently that’s what the butt of a dirt-covered wombat looks like. Here is a much more exciting video of an entirely different wombat burrow exploring robot where you get the wombat payoff that you deserve:
[ Paper ]
During the dark of night, using LiDAR for eyes, Cassie Blue is operating fully autonomously on the University of Michigan Wave Field. The terrain is challenging and was not pre-mapped.
For more on what they've been up to over at the University of Michigan, here’s a talk from them at the ICRA 2021 Workshop on Legged Robots.
[ Michigan Robotics ]
The new Genesis LiveDrive LDD 1800 Series is a new high-torque direct-drive actuator. No gearbox!
[ Genesis ]
This Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS) from DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program may look like it shot out a net and missed, but it was actually firing a bunch of sticky streamers that tangle up motors and whatnot. Festive and crashy!
[ Genesis ]
Learn about this year’s Kuka Innovation Award from some of the teams and judges, some of whom need a haircut more badly than others.
[ KUKA ]
20th Century Studios and Locksmith Animation’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device, which is supposed to be his “Best Friend out of the Box.”
For a robot unboxing, that’s actually pretty good. Like, it arrives with a charged battery!
[ EW ]
The robot will serve you now! And it will do so without making a huge mess, thanks to folks from the University of Naples Federico II in Italy.
[ Paper ]
Over the past year ABB has committed to supporting diversity and inclusion amongst all of our team members, partners and suppliers. To kick off our celebration of Pride Month, Yumi put on the pride flag to show ABB’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
[ ABB ]
How it’s made: surgical masks.
[ Genik ]
Meet Hera, our very own asteroid detective. Together with two CubeSats—Milani the rock decoder and Juventas the radar visionary—Hera is off on an adventure to explore Didymos, a double asteroid system that is typical of the thousands that pose an impact risk to planet Earth.
[ ESA ]
The goal of the EU-funded project ADIR was to demonstrate the feasibility of a key technology for next generation urban mining. Specifically, the project investigated the automated disassembly of electronic equipment to separate and recover valuable materials.
[ ADIR ]
NASA’s Resilient Autonomy activity is developing autonomous software for potential use in aircraft ranging from general aviation retrofit to future autonomous aircraft. This simulator footage shows iGCAS, or improved GCAS, save a small aircraft from diving into a canyon, into the side of a mountain, or into the ground.
[ NASA ]
Mess with the Cocobo security robot at your peril.
[ Impress ]
I thought the whole point of growing rice in flooded fields was that you avoided weed problems, but I guess there are enough semi-aquatic weeds that it can be handy to have a little robot boat that drives around stirring up mud to surpress weed growth.
[ Robotstart ]
We present experimental work on traversing steep, granular slopes with the dynamically walking quadrupedal robot SpaceBok. We validate static and dynamic locomotion with two different foot types (point foot and passive-adaptive planar foot) on Mars analog slopes of up to 25°(the maximum of the testbed).
[ Paper ]
You'll have to suffer through a little bit of German for this one, but you'll be rewarded with a pretty slick flying wing at the end.
[ BFW ]
Have you ever wondered whether the individual success metrics prevalent in robotics create perverse incentives that harm the long-term needs of the field? Or if the development of high-stakes autonomous systems warrants taking significant risks with real-world deployment to accelerate progress? Are the standards for experimental validation insufficient to ensure that published robotics methods work in the real world? We have all the answers!
[ Robotics Debates ] Continue reading
A hundred years ago, it was difficult to imagine that humanity would be able to fly into space, create artificial intelligence, and instantly exchange information. Modern technology has greatly changed the way the current generation of people lives. But there are still incredible discoveries that humanity has not yet made. Among them is the solution …
The post 5 Modern Technologies That Can Become a Key to Immortality appeared first on TFOT. Continue reading
In 2017, we first wrote about the Chinese startup Unitree Robotics, which had the goal of “making legged robots as popular and affordable as smartphones and drones.” Relative to the cost of other quadrupedal robots (like Boston Dynamics’ $74,000 Spot), Unitree’s quadrupeds are very affordable, with their A1 costing under $10,000 when it became available in 2020. This hasn’t quite reached the point of consumer electronics that Unitree is aiming for, but they’ve just gotten a lot closer: now available is the Unitree Go1, a totally decent looking small size quadruped that can be yours for an astonishingly low $2700.
Not bad, right? Speedy, good looking gait, robust, and a nifty combination of autonomous human following and obstacle avoidance. As with any product video, it’s important to take everything you see here with a grain of salt, but based on Unitree’s track record we have no particular reason to suspect that there’s much in the way of video trickery going on.
There are three versions of the Go1: the $2700 base model Go1 Air, the $3500 Go1, and the $8500 Go1 Edu. This looks to be the sort of Goldilocks pricing model, where most people are likely to spring for the middle version Go1, which includes better sensing and compute as well as 50% more battery life an an extra m/s of speed (up to 3.5m/s) for a modest premium in cost. The top of the line Edu model offers higher end computing, 2kg more payload (up to 5kg), as well as foot-force sensors, lidar, and a hardware extension interface and API access. More detailed specs are here, although if you’re someone who actually cares about detailed robot specs, what you’ll find on Unitree’s website at the moment will probably be a little bit disappointing.
We’ve reached out to Unitree to ask them about some of the specs that aren’t directly addressed on the website. Battery life is a big question—the video seems to suggest that the Go1 is capable of a three-kilometer, 20-minute jog, and then some grocery shopping and a picnic, all while doing obstacle avoidance and person following and with an occasional payload. If all of that is without any battery swaps, that’s pretty good. We’re also wondering exactly what the “Super Sensory System” is, what kinds of tracking and obstacle avoidance and map making skills the Go1 has, and exactly what capabilities you’ll be required to spring for the fancier (and more expensive) versions of the Go1 to enjoy.
Honestly, though, we’re not sure what Unitree could realistically tell us about the Go1 where we’d be like, “hmm okay maybe this isn’t that great of a deal after all.” Of course the real test will be when some non-Unitree folks get a hold of a Go1 to see what it can actually do (Unitree, please contact me for my mailing address), but even at $3500 for the midrange model, this seems like an impressively cost effective little robot. Continue reading
Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed novel techniques, known as Automated Fiber Embedding (AFE), to produce complex fiber and silicone composite structures for soft robotics applications. Their work was published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. Continue reading