Category Archives: Human Robots

Everything about Humanoid Robots and Androids

#439956 Video Friday: Dronut

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. 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!):

ICRA 2022 – May 23-27, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA, USALet us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.
We first met Cleo Robotics at CES 2017, when they were showing off a consumer prototype of their unique ducted-fan drone. They've just announced a new version which has been beefed up to do surveillance, and it is actually called the Dronut.

For such a little thing, the 12 minute flight time is not the worst, and hopefully it'll find a unique niche that'll help Cleo move back towards the consumer market, because I want one.
[ Cleo ]
Happy tenth birthday, Thymio!

[ EPFL ]
Here we describe a protective strategy for winged drones that mitigates the added weight and drag by means of increased lift generation and stall delay at high angles of attack. The proposed structure is inspired by the wing system found in beetles and consists of adding an additional set of retractable wings, named elytra, which can rapidly encapsulate the main folding wings when protection is needed.
[ EPFL ]
This is some very, very impressive robust behavior on ANYmal, part of Joonho Lee's master's thesis at ETH Zurich.

[ ETH Zurich ]
NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today that it has developed a blade-free, blimp-type drone equipped with a high-resolution video camera that captures high-quality video and full-color LED lights glow in radiant colors.
[ NTT Docomo ] via [ Gizmodo ]
Senior Software Engineer Daniel Piedrahita explains the theory behind robust dynamic stability and how Agility engineers used it to develop an unique and cohesive hardware and software solution that allows Digit to navigate unpredictable terrain with ease.
[ Agility ]
The title of thie video from DeepRobotics is “DOOMSDAY COMING.” Best not to think about it, probably.

[ DeepRobotics ]
More Baymax!

[ Disney ]
At Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, they're trying to figure out how to make a COVID-19 officer robot authoritative enough that people will actually pay attention to it and do what it says.

[ Paper ]
Thanks, Andy!
You'd think that high voltage powerlines would be the last thing you'd want a drone to futz with, but here we are.

[ GRVC ]
Cassie Blue navigates around furniture treated as obstacles in the atrium of the Ford Robotics Building at the University of Michigan.
[ Michigan Robotics ]
Northrop Grumman and its partners AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Michelin are designing a new vehicle that will greatly expand and enhance human and robotic exploration of the Moon, and ultimately, Mars.
[ Northrop Grumman ]
This letter proposes a novel design for a coaxial hexarotor (Y6) with a tilting mechanism that can morph midair while in a hover, changing the flight stage from a horizontal to a vertical orientation, and vice versa, thus allowing wall-perching and wall-climbing maneuvers.
Honda and Black & Veatch have successfully tested the prototype Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) at a construction site in New Mexico. During the month-long field test, the second-generation, fully-electric Honda AWV performed a range of functions at a large-scale solar energy construction project, including towing activities and transporting construction materials, water, and other supplies to pre-set destinations within the work site.
[ Honda ]
This could very well be the highest speed multiplier I've ever seen in a robotics video.

Here's an interesting design for a manipulator that can do in-hand manipulation with a minimum of fuss, from the Yale Grablab.

[ Paper ]
That ugo robot that's just a ball with eyes on a stick is one of my favorite robots ever, because it's so unapologetically just a ball on a stick.

[ ugo ]
Robot, make me a sandwich. And then make me a bunch more sandwiches.

[ Soft Robotics ]
Refilling water bottles isn't a very complex task, but having a robot do it means that humans don't have to.

[ Fraunhofer ]
To help manufacturers find cost effective and sustainable alternatives to single -use plastic, ABB Robotics is collaborating with Zume, a global provider of innovative compostable packaging solutions. We will integrate and install up to 2000 robots at Zume customer's sites worldwide over the next five years to automate the innovative manufacturing production of 100 percent compostable packaging molded from sustainably harvested plant-based material for products from food and groceries to cosmetics and consumer goods.
[ ABB ] Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#439951 Video Friday: FridgeBot

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. 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!):

ICRA 2022 – May 23-27, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA, USALet us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.
Telexistence and FamilyMart introduced a new robot TX SCARA equipped with TX's proprietary AI system Gordon to the FamilyMart METI store to perform beverage replenishment work in the back 24 hours a day in place of human workers, thereby automating high-volume work in a low-temperature environment where the physical load on store staff is significant.
[ Telexistence ]
It would be a lot easier to build a drone if you didn't have to worry about take-offs or landings, and DARPA's Gremlins program has been making tangible progress towards midair drone recovery.

At Cobionix, we are developing Cobi, a multi-sensing, intelligent cobot that can not only work safely alongside humans but also learn from them and become smarter over time. In this video, we showcase one of the applications that Cobi is being utilized: Needle-less robotic intermuscular injection.
[ Cobionix ] via [ Gizmodo ]
It's been just a little bit too long since we've had a high quality cat on a Roomba video.

[ YouTube ]
Scientists from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), in the ever-present quest to get machines to replicate human abilities, created a framework that's more scaled up: a system that can reorient over two thousand different objects, with the robotic hand facing both upwards and downwards. This ability to manipulate anything from a cup to a tuna can, and a Cheez-It box, could help the hand quickly pick-and-place objects in specific ways and locations — and even generalize to unseen objects.
NASA is sending a couple of robots to Venus in 2029! Not the kind with legs or wheels, but still.

[ NASA ]
The Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology division at Berkeley Lab has built a robot, called the EcoBOT, that is able to perform “self-driving experiments.”
[ EcoBOT ]
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a new approach in which robotic exosuit assistance can be calibrated to an individual and adapt to a variety of real-world walking tasks in a matter of seconds. The bioinspired system uses ultrasound measurements of muscle dynamics to develop a personalized and activity-specific assistance profile for users of the exosuit.
[ Harvard Wyss ]
We propose a gecko-inspired robot with an optimal bendable body structure. The robot leg and body movements are driven by central pattern generator (CPG)-based neural control. It can climb using a combination of trot gait and lateral undulation of the bendable body with a C-shaped standing wave. This approach results in 52% and 54% reduced energy consumption during climbing on inclined solid and soft surfaces, respectively, compared to climbing with a fixed body. To this end, the study provides a basis for developing sprawling posture robots with a bendable body and neural control for energy-efficient inclined surface climbing with a possible extension towards agile and versatile locomotion.
[ Paper ]
Thanks Poramate!
The new Mavic 3 from DJI looks very impressive, especially that 46 minute battery life.

[ DJI ]
Sonia Roberts, an experimentalist at heart and PhD researcher with Kod*lab, a legged robotics group within the GRASP Lab at Penn Engineering takes us inside her scientific process. How can a robot's controllers help it use less energy as it runs on sand?
[ KodLab ]
The Canadian Space Agency is preparing for a Canadian rover to explore a polar region of the Moon within the next five years. Two Canadian companies, MDA and Canadensys, have been selected to design lunar rover concepts.
[ CSA ]
Our Boeing Australia team has expanded its flight-test program of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, with two aircraft successfully completing separate flight missions at the Woomera Range Complex recently.
[ Boeing ]
I do not understand what the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots folks are trying to tell me here, and also, those colors make my eyeballs scream.

[ Campaign to Stop Killer Robots ]
No doorbell? Nothing that some Dynamixels and a tongue drum can't fix.

[ YouTube ]
We present an integrated system for performing precision harvesting missions using a legged harvester (HEAP) in a confined, GPS denied forest environment.
[ Paper ]
This video demonstrates some of the results from a scientific deployment to Chernobyl NPP in September 2021 led by University of Bristol.
[ University of Bristol ]
This a bottle unscrambler. I don't know why that's what it's called because the bottles don't seem scrambled. But it's unscrambling them anyway.

[ B&R ]
We invite you to hear from the leadership of Team Explorer, the CMU DARPA Subterranean Challenge team, as they discuss the challenges, lessons learned, and the future direction these technologies are headed in.
[ AirLab ] Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#439946 Video Friday: Your Robot Dog

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. 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!):

ICRA 2022 – May 23-27, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA, USALet us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.
I don't know how much this little quadruped from DeepRobotics costs, but the video makes it look scarily close to a consumer product.

Jueying Lite2 is an intelligent quadruped robot independently developed by DeepRobotics. Based on advanced control algorithms, it has multiple motion modes such as walking, sliding, jumping, running, and back somersault. It has freely superimposed intelligent modules, capable of autonomous positioning and navigation, real-time obstacle avoidance, and visual recognition. It has a user-oriented design concept, with new functions such as voice interaction, sound source positioning, and safety and collision avoidance, giving users a better interactive experience and safety assurance.[ DeepRobotics ]
We hope that this video can assist the community in explaining what ROS is, who uses it, and why it is important to those unfamiliar with ROS.
[ ]

Boston Dynamics should know better than to post new videos on Fridays (as opposed to Thursday nights, when I put this post together every week), but if you missed this last week, here you go.

Robot choreography by Boston Dynamics and Monica Thomas.
[ Boston Dynamics ]
DeKonBot 2: for when you want things really, really, really, slowly clean.

[ Fraunhofer ]
Who needs Digit when Cassie is still hard at work!

[ Michigan Robotics ]
I am not making any sort of joke about sausage handling.

[ Soft Robotics ]
A squad of mini rovers traversed the simulated lunar soils of NASA Glenn's SLOPE (Simulated Lunar Operations) lab recently. The shoebox-sized rovers were tested to see if they could navigate the conditions of hard-to-reach places such as craters and caves on the Moon.
[ NASA Glenn ]
This little cyclocopter is cute, but I'm more excited for the teaser at the end of the video.

[ TAMU ]
Fourteen years ago, a team of engineering experts and Virginia Tech students competed in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge and propelled Torc to success. We look forward to many more milestones as we work to commercialize autonomous trucks.
[ Torc ]
Blarg not more of this…

Show me the robot prepping those eggs and doing the plating, please.
[ Moley Robotics ]
ETH Zurich's unique non-profit project continues! From 25 to 27 October 2024, the third edition of the CYBATHLON will take place in a global format. To the original six disciplines, two more are added: a race using smart visual assistive technologies and a race using assistive robots. As a platform, CYBATHLON challenges teams from around the world to develop everyday assistive technologies for, and in collaboration with, people with disabilities.
[ Cybathlon ]
Will drone deliveries be a practical part of our future? We visit the test facilities of Wing to check out how their engineers and aircraft designers have developed a drone and drone fleet control system that is actually in operation today in parts of the world.
[ Tested ]
In our third Self-Driven Women event, Waymo engineering leads Allison Thackston, Shilpa Gulati, and Congcong Li talk about some of the toughest and most interesting problems in ML and robotics and how it enables building a scalable driving autonomous driving tech stack. They also discuss their respective career journeys, and answer live questions from the virtual audience.
[ Waymo ]
The Robotics and Automation Society Student Activities Committee (RAS SAC) is proud to present “Transition to a Career in Academia,” a panel with robotics thought leaders. This panel is intended for robotics students and engineers interested in learning more about careers in academia after earning their degree. The panel will be moderated by RAS SAC Co-Chair, Marwa ElDinwiny.
This week's CMU RI Seminar is from Siddharth Srivastava at Arizona State, on The Unusual Effectiveness of Abstractions for Assistive AI.

[ CMU RI ] Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#439941 Flexible Monocopter Drone Can Be ...

It turns out that you don't need a lot of hardware to make a flying robot. Flying robots are usually way, way, way over-engineered, with ridiculously over the top components like two whole wings or an obviously ludicrous four separate motors. Maybe that kind of stuff works for people with more funding than they know what to do with, but for anyone trying to keep to a reasonable budget, all it actually takes to make a flying robot is one single airfoil plus an attached fixed-pitch propeller. And if you make that airfoil flexible, you can even fold the entire thing up into a sort of flying robotic swiss roll.
This type of drone is called a monocopter, and the design is very generally based on samara seeds, which are those single-wing seed pods that spin down from maple trees. The ability to spin slows the seeds' descent to the ground, allowing them to spread farther from the tree. It's an inherently stable design, meaning that it'll spin all by itself and do so in a stable and predictable way, which is a nice feature for a drone to have—if everything completely dies, it'll just spin itself gently down to a landing by default.

The monocopter we're looking at here, called F-SAM, comes from the Singapore University of Technology & Design, and we've written about some of their flying robots in the past, including this transformable hovering rotorcraft. F-SAM stands for Foldable Single Actuator Monocopter, and as you might expect, it's a monocopter that can fold up and uses just one single actuator for control.

There may not be a lot going on here hardware-wise, but that's part of the charm of this design. The one actuator gives complete directional control: increasing the throttle increases the RPM of the aircraft, causing it to gain altitude, which is pretty straightforward. Directional control is trickier, but not much trickier, requiring repetitive pulsing of the motor at a point during the aircraft's spin when it's pointed in the direction you want it to go. F-SAM is operating in a motion-capture environment in the video to explore its potential for precision autonomy, but it's not restricted to that environment, and doesn't require external sensing for control.

While F-SAM's control board was custom designed and the wing requires some fabrication, the rest of the parts are cheap and off the shelf. The total weight of F-SAM is just 69g, of which nearly 40% is battery, yielding a flight time of about 16 minutes. If you look closely, you'll also see a teeny little carbon fiber leg of sorts that keeps the prop up above the ground, enabling the ground takeoff behavior without contacting the ground.
You can find the entire F-SAM paper open access here, but we also asked the authors a couple of extra questions.
IEEE Spectrum: It looks like you explored different materials and combinations of materials for the flexible wing structure. Why did you end up with this mix of balsa wood and plastic?

Shane Kyi Hla Win: The wing structure of a monocopter requires rigidity in order to be controllable in flight. Although it is possible for the monocopter to fly with more flexible materials we tested, such as flexible plastic or polymide flex, they allow the wing to twist freely mid-flight making cyclic control effort from the motor less effective. The balsa laminated with plastic provides enough rigidity for an effective control, while allowing folding in a pre-determined triangular fold.
Can F-SAM fly outdoors? What is required to fly it outside of a motion capture environment?
Yes it can fly outdoors. It is passively stable so it does not require a closed-loop control for its flight. The motion capture environment provides its absolute position for station-holding and waypoint flights when indoors. For outdoor flight, an electronic compass provides the relative heading for the basic cyclic control. We are working on a prototype with an integrated GPS for outdoor autonomous flights.
Would you be able to add a camera or other sensors to F-SAM?
A camera can be added (we have done this before), but due to its spinning nature, images captured can come out blurry. 360 cameras are becoming lighter and smaller and we may try putting one on F-SAM or other monocopters we have. Other possible sensors to include are LiDAR sensor or ToF sensor. With LiDAR, the platform has an advantage as it is already spinning at a known RPM. A conventional LiDAR system requires a dedicated actuator to create a spinning motion. As a rotating platform, F-SAM already possesses the natural spinning dynamics, hence making LiDAR integration lightweight and more efficient.
Your paper says that “in the future, we may look into possible launching of F-SAM directly from the container, without the need for human intervention.” Can you describe how this would happen?
Currently, F-SAM can be folded into a compact form and stored inside a container. However, it still requires a human to unfold it and either hand-launch it or put it on the floor to fly off. In the future, we envision that F-SAM is put inside a container which has the mechanism (such as pressured gas) to catapult the folded unit into the air, which can begin unfolding immediately due to elastic materials used. The motor can initiate the spin which allows the wing to straighten out due to centrifugal forces.
Do you think F-SAM would make a good consumer drone?
F-SAM could be a good toy but it may not be a good alternative to quadcopters if the objective is conventional aerial photography or videography. However, it can be a good contender for single-use GPS-guided reconnaissance missions. As it uses only one actuator for its flight, it can be made relatively cheaply. It is also very silent during its flight and easily camouflaged once landed. Various lightweight sensors can be integrated onto the platform for different types of missions, such as climate monitoring. F-SAM units can be deployed from the air, as they can also autorotate on their way down, while also flying at certain periods for extended meteorological data collection in the air.
What are you working on next?
We have a few exciting projects on hand, most of which focus on 'do more with less' theme. This means our projects aim to achieve multiple missions and flight modes while using as few actuators as possible. Like F-SAM which uses only one actuator to achieve controllable flight, another project we are working on is the fully autorotating version, named Samara Autorotating Wing (SAW). This platform, published earlier this year in IEEE Transactions on Robotics , is able to achieve two flight modes (autorotation and diving) with just one actuator. It is ideal for deploying single-use sensors to remote locations. For example, we can use the platform to deploy sensors for forest monitoring or wildfire alert system. The sensors can land on tree canopies, and once landed the wing provides the necessary area for capturing solar energy for persistent operation over several years. Another interesting scenario is using the autorotating platform to guide the radiosondes back to the collection point once its journey upwards is completed. Currently, many radiosondes are sent up with hydrogen balloons from weather stations all across the world (more than 20,000 annually from Australia alone) and once the balloon reaches a high altitude and bursts, the sensors drop back onto the earth and no effort is spent to retrieve these sensors. By guiding these sensors back to a collection point, millions of dollars can be saved every year—and also [it helps] save the environment by polluting less. Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#439938 Tiny bubbles: Researchers develop a ...

Princeton researchers have invented bubble casting, a new way to make soft robots using “fancy balloons” that change shape in predictable ways when inflated with air. Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots