Tag Archives: japanese

#439012 Video Friday: Man-Machine Synergy ...

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!):

RoboSoft 2021 – April 12-16, 2021 – [Online Conference]
ICRA 2021 – May 30-5, 2021 – Xi'an, China
DARPA SubT Finals – September 21-23, 2021 – Louisville, KY, USA
WeRobot 2021 – September 23-25, 2021 – Coral Gables, FL, USA
Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

Man-Machine Synergy Effectors, Inc. is a Japanese company working on an absolutely massive “human machine synergistic effect device,” which is a huge robot controlled by a nearby human using a haptic rig.

From the look of things, the next generation will be able to move around. Whoa.

[ MMSE ]

This method of loading and unloading AMRs without having them ever stop moving is so obvious that there must be some equally obvious reason why I've never seen it done in practice.

The LoadRunner is able to transport and sort parcels weighing up to 30 kilograms. This makes it the perfect luggage carrier for airports. These AI-driven go-carts can also work in concert as larger collectives to carry large, heavy and bulky objects. Every LoadRunner can also haul up to four passive trailers. Powered by four electric motors, the LoadRunner sharply brakes at just the right moment right in front of its destination and the payload slides from the robot onto the delivery platform.

[ Fraunhofer ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Ayato Kanada at Kyushu University wrote in to share this clever “dislocatable joint,” a way of combining continuum and rigid robots.

[ Paper ]

Thanks Ayato!

The DodgeDrone challenge revisits the popular dodgeball game in the context of autonomous drones. Specifically, participants will have to code navigation policies to fly drones between waypoints while avoiding dynamic obstacles. Drones are fast but fragile systems: as soon as something hits them, they will crash! Since objects will move towards the drone with different speeds and acceleration, smart algorithms are required to avoid them!

This could totally happen in real life, and we need to be prepared for it!

[ DodgeDrone Challenge ]

In addition to winning the Best Student Design Competition CREATIVITY Award at HRI 2021, this paper would also have won the Best Paper Title award, if that award existed.

[ Paper ]

Robots are traditionally bound by a fixed morphology during their operational lifetime, which is limited to adapting only their control strategies. Here we present the first quadrupedal robot that can morphologically adapt to different environmental conditions in outdoor, unstructured environments.

We show that the robot exploits its training to effectively transition between different morphological configurations, exhibiting substantial performance improvements over a non-adaptive approach. The demonstrated benefits of real-world morphological adaptation demonstrate the potential for a new embodied way of incorporating adaptation into future robotic designs.

[ Nature ]

A drone video shot in a Minneapolis bowling alley was hailed as an instant classic. One Hollywood veteran said it “adds to the language and vocabulary of cinema.” One IEEE Spectrum editor said “hey that's pretty cool.”

[ Bryant Lake Bowl ]

It doesn't take a robot to convince me to buy candy, but I think if I buy candy from Relay it's a business expense, right?

[ RIS ]

DARPA is making progress on its AI dogfighting program, with physical flight tests expected this year.


Unitree Robotics has realized that the Empire needs to be overthrown!

[ Unitree ]

Windhover Labs, an emerging leader in open and reliable flight software and hardware, announces the upcoming availability of its first hardware product, a low cost modular flight computer for commercial drones and small satellites.

[ Windhover ]

As robots and autonomous systems are poised to become part of our everyday lives, the University of Michigan and Ford are opening a one-of-a-kind facility where they’ll develop robots and roboticists that help make lives better, keep people safer and build a more equitable society.

[ U Michigan ]

The adaptive robot Rizon combined with a new hybrid electrostatic and gecko-inspired gripping pad developed by Stanford BDML can manipulate bulky, non-smooth items in the most effort-saving way, which broadens the applications in retail and household environments.

[ Flexiv ]

Thanks Yunfan!

I don't know why anyone would want things to get MORE icy, but if you do for some reason, you can make it happen with a Husky.

Is winter over yet?

[ Clearpath ]

Skip ahead to about 1:20 to see a pair of Gita robots following a Spot following a human like a chain of lil’ robot duckings.

[ PFF ]

Here are a couple of retro robotics videos, one showing teleoperated humanoids from 2000, and the other showing a robotic guide dog from 1976 (!)

[ Tachi Lab ]

Thanks Fan!

If you missed Chad Jenkins' talk “That Ain’t Right: AI Mistakes and Black Lives” last time, here's another opportunity to watch from Robotics Today, and it includes a top notch panel discussion at the end.

[ Robotics Today ]

Since its founding in 1979, the Robotics Institute (RI) at Carnegie Mellon University has been leading the world in robotics research and education. In the mid 1990s, RI created NREC as the applied R&D center within the Institute with a specific mission to apply robotics technology in an impactful way on real-world applications. In this talk, I will go over numerous R&D programs that I have led at NREC in the past 25 years.

[ CMU ] Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#438738 This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From ...

A New Artificial Intelligence Makes Mistakes—on Purpose
Will Knight | Wired
“It took about 50 years for computers to eviscerate humans in the venerable game of chess. A standard smartphone can now play the kind of moves that make a grandmaster’s head spin. But one artificial intelligence program is taking a few steps backward, to appreciate how average humans play—blunders and all.”

Bitcoin’s Price Rises to $50,000 as Mainstream Institutions Hop On
Timothy B. Lee | Ars Technica
“Bitcoin’s price is now far above the previous peak of $19,500 reached in December 2017. Bitcoin’s value has risen by almost 70 percent since the start of 2021. No single factor seems to be driving the cryptocurrency’s rise. Instead, the price is rising as more and more mainstream organizations are deciding to treat it as an ordinary investment asset.”

Million-Year-Old Mammoth Teeth Contain Oldest DNA Ever Found
Jeanne Timmons | Gizmodo
“An international team of scientists has sequenced DNA from mammoth teeth that is at least a million years old, if not older. This research, published today in Nature, not only provides exciting new insight into mammoth evolutionary history, it reveals an entirely unknown lineage of ancient mammoth.”

Scientists Accidentally Discover Strange Creatures Under a Half Mile of Ice
Matt Simon | Wired
“i‘It’s like, bloody hell!’ Smith says. ‘It’s just one big boulder in the middle of a relatively flat seafloor. It’s not as if the seafloor is littered with these things.’ Just his luck to drill in the only wrong place. Wrong place for collecting seafloor muck, but the absolute right place for a one-in-a-million shot at finding life in an environment that scientists didn’t reckon could support much of it.”

Highest-Resolution Images of DNA Reveal It’s Surprisingly Jiggly
George Dvorsky | Gizmodo
“Scientists have captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of DNA, revealing previously unseen twisting and squirming behaviors. …These hidden movements were revealed by computer simulations fed with the highest-resolution images ever taken of a single molecule of DNA. The new study is exposing previously unseen behaviors in the self-replicating molecule, and this research could eventually lead to the development of powerful new genetic therapies.”

The First Battery-Powered Tanker Is Coming to Tokyo
Maria Gallucci | IEEE Spectrum
“The Japanese tanker is Corvus’s first fully-electric coastal freighter project; the company hopes the e5 will be the first of hundreds more just like it. ‘We see it [as] a beachhead for the coastal shipping market globally,’ Puchalski said. ‘There are many other coastal freighter types that are similar in size and energy demand.’ The number of battery-powered ships has ballooned from virtually zero a decade ago to hundreds worldwide.”

Report: NASA’s Only Realistic Path for Humans on Mars Is Nuclear Propulsion
Eric Berger | Ars Technica
“Conducted at the request of NASA, a broad-based committee of experts assessed the viability of two means of propulsion—nuclear thermal and nuclear electric—for a human mission launching to Mars in 2039. ‘One of the primary takeaways of the report is that if we want to send humans to Mars, and we want to do so repeatedly and in a sustainable way, nuclear space propulsion is on the path,’ said [JPL’s] Bobby Braun.”

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Successfully Lands on Mars
Joey Roulette | The Verge
“Perseverance hit Mars’ atmosphere on time at 3:48PM ET at speeds of about 12,100 miles per hour, diving toward the surface in an infamously challenging sequence engineers call the “seven minutes of terror.” With an 11-minute comms delay between Mars and Earth, the spacecraft had to carry out its seven-minute plunge at all by itself with a wickedly complex set of pre-programmed instructions.”

A First-of-Its-Kind Geoengineering Experiment Is About to Take Its First Step
James Temple | MIT Technology Review
“When I visited Frank Keutsch in the fall of 2019, he walked me down to the lab, where the tube, wrapped in gray insulation, ran the length of a bench in the back corner. By filling it with the right combination of gases, at particular temperatures and pressures, Keutsch and his colleagues had simulated the conditions some 20 kilometers above Earth’s surface. In testing how various chemicals react in this rarefied air, the team hoped to conduct a crude test of a controversial scheme known as solar geoengineering.”

Image Credit: Garcia / Unsplash Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#438447 How to get close to a robot, or not

In some countries, like Japan (with a fast-aging population, and not enough young productive people), they want to rely for a large part on robots. Other people believe robots will steal our jobs. What do you think!

Posted in Human Robots

#437935 Start the New Year Right: By Watching ...

I don’t need to tell you that 2020 was a tough year. There was almost nothing good about it, and we saw it off with a “good riddance” and hopes for a better 2021. But robotics company Boston Dynamics took a different approach to closing out the year: when all else fails, why not dance?

The company released a video last week that I dare you to watch without laughing—or at the very least, cracking a pretty big smile. Because, well, dancing robots are funny. And it’s not just one dancing robot, it’s four of them: two humanoid Atlas bots, one four-legged Spot, and one Handle, a bot-on-wheels built for materials handling.

The robots’ killer moves look almost too smooth and coordinated to be real, leading many to speculate that the video was computer-generated. But if you can trust Elon Musk, there’s no CGI here.

This is not CGI https://t.co/VOivE97vPR

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 29, 2020

Boston Dynamics went through a lot of changes in the last ten years; it was acquired by Google in 2013, then sold to Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in 2017 before being acquired again by Hyundai just a few weeks ago for $1.1 billion. But this isn’t the first time they teach a robot to dance and make a video for all the world to enjoy; Spot tore up the floor to “Uptown Funk” back in 2018.

Four-legged Spot went commercial in June, with a hefty price tag of $74,500, and was put to some innovative pandemic-related uses, including remotely measuring patients’ vital signs and reminding people to social distance.

Hyundai plans to implement its newly-acquired robotics prowess for everything from service and logistics robots to autonomous driving and smart factories.

They’ll have their work cut out for them. Besides being hilarious, kind of heartwarming, and kind of creepy all at once, the robots’ new routine is pretty impressive from an engineering standpoint. Compare it to a 2016 video of Atlas trying to pick up a box (I know it’s a machine with no feelings, but it’s hard not to feel a little bit bad for it, isn’t it?), and it’s clear Boston Dynamics’ technology has made huge strides. It wouldn’t be surprising if, in two years’ time, we see a video of a flash mob of robots whose routine includes partner dancing and back flips (which, admittedly, Atlas can already do).

In the meantime, though, this one is pretty entertaining—and not a bad note on which to start the new year.

Image Credit: Boston Dynamics Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots

#437857 Video Friday: Robotic Third Hand Helps ...

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!):

ICRA 2020 – June 1-15, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece
ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado
Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

We are seeing some exciting advances in the development of supernumerary robotic limbs. But one thing about this technology remains a major challenge: How do you control the extra limb if your own hands are busy—say, if you’re carrying a package? MIT researchers at Professor Harry Asada’s lab have an idea. They are using subtle finger movements in sensorized gloves to control the supernumerary limb. The results are promising, and they’ve demonstrated a waist-mounted arm with a qb SoftHand that can help you with doors, elevators, and even handshakes.

[ Paper ]


Fluid actuated soft robots, or fluidic elastomer actuators, have shown great potential in robotic applications where large compliance and safe interaction are dominant concerns. They have been widely studied in wearable robotics, prosthetics, and rehabilitations in recent years. However, such soft robots and actuators are tethered to a bulky pump and controlled by various valves, limiting their applications to a small confined space. In this study, we report a new and effective approach to fluidic power actuation that is untethered, easy to design, fabricate, control, and allows various modes of actuation. In the proposed approach, a sealed elastic tube filled with fluid (gas or liquid) is segmented by adaptors. When twisting a segment, two major effects could be observed: (1) the twisted segment exhibits a contraction force and (2) other segments inflate or deform according to their constraint patterns.

[ Paper ]

And now: “Magnetic cilia carpets.”

[ ETH Zurich ]

To adhere to government recommendations while maintaining requirements for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Yaskawa Motoman is now utilizing an HC10DT collaborative robot to take individual employee temperatures. Named “Covie”, the design and fabrication of the robotic solution and its software was a combined effort by Yaskawa Motoman’s Technology Advancement Team (TAT) and Product Solutions Group (PSG), as well as a group of robotics students from the University of Dayton.

They should have programmed it to nod if your temperature was normal, and smacked you upside the head while yelling “GO HOME” if it wasn’t.

[ Yaskawa ]

Driving slowly on pre-defined routes, ZMP’s RakuRo autonomous vehicle helps people with mobility challenges enjoy cherry blossoms in Japan.

RakuRo costs about US $1,000 per month to rent, but ZMP suggests that facilities or groups of ~10 people could get together and share one, which makes the cost much more reasonable.

[ ZMP ]

Jessy Grizzle from the Dynamic Legged Locomotion Lab at the University of Michigan writes:

Our lab closed on March 20, 2020 under the State of Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. For a 24-hour period, it seemed that our labs would be “sanitized” during our absence. Since we had no idea what that meant, we decided that Cassie Blue needed to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” as well. We loaded up a very expensive robot and took her off campus. On May 26, we were allowed to re-open our laboratory. After thoroughly cleaning the lab, disinfecting tools and surfaces, developing and getting approval for new safe operation procedures, we then re-organized our work areas to respect social distancing requirements and brought Cassie back to the laboratory.

During the roughly two months we were working remotely, the lab’s members got a lot done. Papers were written, dissertation proposals were composed, and plans for a new course, ROB 101, Computational Linear Algebra, were developed with colleagues. In addition, one of us (Yukai Gong) found the lockdown to his liking! He needed the long period of quiet to work through some new ideas for how to control 3D bipedal robots.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

Thanks Jesse and Bruce!

You can tell that this video of how Pepper has been useful during COVID-19 is not focused on the United States, since it refers to the pandemic in past tense.

[ Softbank Robotics ]

NASA’s water-seeking robotic Moon rover just booked a ride to the Moon’s South Pole. Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been selected to deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the Moon in 2023.

[ NASA ]

This could be the most impressive robotic gripper demo I have ever seen.

[ Soft Robotics ]

Whiz, an autonomous vacuum sweeper, innovates the cleaning industry by automating tedious tasks for your team. Easy to train, easy to use, Whiz works with your staff to deliver a high-quality clean while increasing efficiency and productivity.

[ Softbank Robotics ]

About 40 seconds into this video, a robot briefly chases a goose.

[ Ghost Robotics ]

SwarmRail is a new concept for rail-guided omnidirectional mobile robot systems. It aims for a highly flexible production process in the factory of the future by opening up the available work space from above. This means that transport and manipulation tasks can be carried out by floor- and ceiling-bound robot systems. The special feature of the system is the combination of omnidirectionally mobile units with a grid-shaped rail network, which is characterized by passive crossings and a continuous gap between the running surfaces of the rails. Through this gap, a manipulator operating below the rail can be connected to a mobile unit traveling on the rail.


RightHand Robotics (RHR), a leader in providing robotic piece-picking solutions, is partnered with PALTAC Corporation, Japan’s largest wholesaler of consumer packaged goods. The collaboration introduces RightHand’s newest piece-picking solution to the Japanese market, with multiple workstations installed in PALTAC’s newest facility, RDC Saitama, which opened in 2019 in Sugito, Saitama Prefecture, Japan.

[ RightHand Robotics ]

From the ICRA 2020, a debate on the “Future of Robotics Research,” addressing such issues as “robotics research is over-reliant on benchmark datasets and simulation” and “robots designed for personal or household use have failed because of fundamental misunderstandings of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI).”

[ Robotics Debates ]

MassRobotics has a series of interviews where robotics celebrities are interviewed by high school students.The students are perhaps a little awkward (remember being in high school?), but it’s honest and the questions are interesting. The first two interviews are with Laurie Leshin, who worked on space robots at NASA and is now President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Colin Angle, founder and CEO of iRobot.

[ MassRobotics ]

Thanks Andrew!

In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. Timothy Chung, a program manager since 2016 in the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, delves into his robotics and autonomous technology programs – the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge and OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET). From robot soccer to live-fly experimentation programs involving dozens of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), he explains how he aims to assist humans heading into unknown environments via advances in collaborative autonomy and robotics.

[ DARPA ] Continue reading

Posted in Human Robots