Tag Archives: robotics

Video Friday: Quadruped Robot HyQ Learning the Ninja Walk

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-hyq-robot-ninja-walk

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!):

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
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado

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


Festo’s New Bio-Inspired Robots Include a Feathery Bionic Bird

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/festo-bioinspired-robots-bionicswift

I’ve completely lost track of time over the past couple of months (it’s been months, right?), but somehow, the folks over at Festo have held it together well enough to continue working on their Bionic Learning Network robots. Every year or two, Festo shows off some really quite spectacular bio-inspired creations, including robotic ants and butterflieshopping kangaroosrolling spiderbots, flying penguins and flying jellyfishand much more. This year, Festo is demonstrating two new robots: BionicMobileAssistant (a “mobile robot system with pneumatic gripping hand”), and BionicSwift, a swarm of beautiful aerial birds.

Why We Need Robot Sloths

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/why-we-need-robot-sloths

An inherent characteristic of a robot (I would argue) is embodied motion. We tend to focus on motion rather a lot with robots, and the most dynamic robots get the most attention. This isn’t to say that highly dynamic robots don’t deserve our attention, but there are other robotic philosophies that, while perhaps less visually exciting, are equally valuable under the right circumstances. Magnus Egerstedt, a robotics professor at Georgia Tech, was inspired by some sloths he met in Costa Rica to explore the idea of “slowness as a design paradigm” through an arboreal robot called SlothBot.

Cuddling Robot Baby Seal Paro Proven to Make Life Less Painful

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/medical-robots/cuddling-robot-baby-seal-paro

Everybody loves Paro. Seriously, what’s not to love about Paro, the robotic baby harp seal designed as a therapeutic tool for use in hospitals and nursing homes? It’s cute, it’s cuddly, it wiggles and makes pleasing noises, and it’s been carefully designed to be the least uncanny valley robot you’ve ever met, because none of us are lucky enough to have real live baby harp seal experience to compare it to. Over the years, a bunch of studies have shown that Paro (which was designed from the beginning to be a medical device) is able to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood, particularly in older adults with dementia. What hasn’t been explored is Paro’s effect on physical pain—if something hurts, can Paro help you feel better?

Nirit Geva, Florina Uzefovsky, and Shelly Levy-Tzedek at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, have just published a new study in Scientific Reports measuring exactly how much Paro can help you when you’re being subjected to pain. And how did they do that? By subjecting people to pain, and then handing them a Paro to snuggle.

Video Friday: Skydio 2 Drone Is Back on Sale, Gets Major Software Update

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/video-friday-skydio-2-back-on-sale

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!):

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
IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada
ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado

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


Drone With Bubble Machine Can Pollinate Flowers Like a Bee

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/drone-bubble-machine-pollinate-flowers-like-a-bee

The tiny biological machines that farms rely on to pollinate the flowers of fruiting plants have been having a tough time of it lately. While folks around the world are working on different artificial pollination systems, there’s really no replacing the productivity, efficiency, and genius of bees, and protecting them is incredibly important. That said, there’s no reason to also work on alternate methods of pollination, and researchers at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) have come up with something brilliant: pollen-infused soap bubbles blown out of a bubble maker mounted to a drone. And it apparently works really well.

How Roboticists (and Robots) Have Been Working from Home

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/how-roboticists-and-robots-have-been-working-from-home

A few weeks ago, we asked folks on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to share photos and videos showing how they’ve been adapting to the closures of research labs, classrooms, and businesses by taking their robots home with them to continue their work as best they can. We got dozens of responses (more than we could possibly include in just one post!), but here are 15 that we thought were particularly creative or amusing.

And if any of these pictures and videos inspire you to share your own story, please email us ([email protected]) with a picture or video and a brief description about how you and your robot from work have been making things happen in your home instead.

Video Friday: Harmonic Bionics Demonstrates Robotic Rehabilitation Exoskeleton

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/medical-robots/video-friday-harmonic-bionics-robotic-exoskeleton

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 – May 31-August 31, 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.


Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot Dog Now Available for $74,500

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/boston-dynamics-spot-robot-dog-now-available

Boston Dynamics has been fielding questions about when its robots are going to go on sale and how much they’ll cost for at least a dozen years now. I can say this with confidence, because that’s how long I’ve been a robotics journalist, and I’ve been pestering them about it the entire time. But it’s only relatively recently that the company started to make a concerted push away from developing robots exclusively for the likes of DARPA into platforms with more commercial potential, starting with a compact legged robot called Spot, first introduced in 2016.

Since then, we’ve been following closely as Spot has gone from a research platform to a product, and today, Boston Dynamics is announcing the final step in that process: commercial availability. You can now order a Spot Explorer Kit from the Boston Dynamics online store for US $74,500 (plus tax), shipping included, with delivery in 6 to 8 weeks. FINALLY!

Learning with Raspberry Pi — robotics, a Master’s degree, and beyond

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/learning-with-raspberry-pi-robotics-a-masters-degree-and-beyond/

Meet Callum Fawcett, who shares his journey from tinkering with the first Raspberry Pi while he was at school, to a Master’s degree in computer science and a real-life job in programming. We also get to see some of the awesome projects he’s made along the way.

I first decided to get a Raspberry Pi at the age of 14. I had already started programming a little bit before and found that I really enjoyed the language Python. At the time the first Raspberry Pi came out, my History teacher told us about them and how they would be a great device to use to learn programming. I decided to ask for one to help me learn more. I didn’t really know what I would use it for or how it would even work, but after a little bit of help at the start, I quickly began making small programs in Python. I remember some of my first programs being very simple dictionary-type programs in which I would match English words to German to help with my German homework.

Learning Linux, C++, and Python

Most of my learning was done through two sources. I learnt Linux and how the terminal worked using online resources such as Stack Overflow. I would have a problem that I needed to solve, look up solutions online, and try out commands that I found. This was perhaps the hardest part of learning how to use a Raspberry Pi, as it was something I had never done before, but it really helped me in later years when I would use Linux more than Windows. For learning programming, I preferred to use books. I had a book for C++ and a book for Python that I would work through. These were game-based books, so many of the fun projects that I did were simple text-based games where you typed in responses to questions.

A family robotics project

The first robot Callum made using a Raspberry Pi

By far the coolest project I did with the Raspberry Pi was to build a small robot (shown above). This was a joint project between myself and my dad. He sorted out the electronics and I programmed the robot. It was a great opportunity to learn about robotics and refine my programming skills. By the end, the robot was capable of moving around by itself, driving into objects, and then reversing and trying a new direction. It was almost like an unintelligent Roomba that couldn’t hoover, but I spent many hours improving small bits and pieces to make it as easy to use as possible. My one wish that I never managed to achieve with my robot was allowing it to map out its surroundings. This was a very ambitious project at the time, since I was still quite inexperienced in programming. The biggest problem with this was calibrating the robot’s turning circle, which was never consistent so it was very hard to have the robot know where in the room it was.

Sense HAT maze game

Another fun project that I worked on used the Sense HAT developed for the Astro Pi computers for use on the International Space Station. Using this, I was able to make a memory maze game (shown below), in which a player is shown a maze for several seconds and then has to navigate that maze from memory by shaking the device. This was my first introduction to using more interactive types of input, and this eventually led to my final-year project, which used these interesting interactions to develop another way of teaching.

Learning programming without formal lessons

I have now just finished my Master’s degree in computer science at the University of Bristol. Before going to university, I had no experience of being taught programming in a formal environment. It was not a taught subject at my secondary school or sixth form. I wanted to get more people at my school interested in this area of study though, which I did by running a coding club for people. I would help others debug their code and discuss interesting problems with them. The reason that I chose to study computer science is largely because of my experiences with Raspberry Pi and other programming I did in my own time during my teenage years. I likely would have studied history if it weren’t for the programming I had done by myself making robots and other games.

Raspberry Pi has continued to play a part in my degree and extra-curricular activities; I used them in two large projects during my time at university and used a similar device in my final project. My robot experience also helped me to enter my university’s ‘Robot Wars’ competition which, though we never won, was a lot of fun.

A tool for learning and a device for industry

Having a Raspberry Pi is always useful during a hackathon, because it’s such a versatile component. Tech like Raspberry Pi will always be useful for beginners to learn the basics of programming and electronics, but these computers are also becoming more and more useful for people with more experience to make fun and useful projects. I could see tech like Raspberry Pi being used in the future to help quickly prototype many types of electronic devices and, as they become more powerful, even being used as an affordable way of controlling many types of robots, which will become more common in the future.

Our guest blogger Callum

Now I am going on to work on programming robot control systems at Ocado Technology. My experiences of robot building during my years before university played a large part in this decision. Already, robots are becoming a huge part of society, and I think they are only going to become more prominent in the future. Automation through robots and artificial intelligence will become one of the most important tools for humanity during the 21st century, and I look forward to being a part of that process. If it weren’t for learning through Raspberry Pi, I certainly wouldn’t be in this position.

Cheers for your story, Callum! Has tinkering with our tiny computer inspired your educational or professional choices? Let us know in the comments below. 

The post Learning with Raspberry Pi — robotics, a Master’s degree, and beyond appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Video Friday: Robotic Third Hand Helps You With Elevators, Handshakes

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-mit-robotic-third-hand

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.


Delivery Drones Could Hitchhike on Public Transit to Massively Expand Their Range

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/delivery-drones-could-hitchhike-on-public-transit-to-massively-expand-their-range

Beyond the technical and social issues with drone delivery, there are real questions about whether it would actually be an efficient and cost-effective way of moving stuff around urban environments. A significant problem with delivery drones right now is that they’re generally not much use if you want to send something relatively heavy very far away, especially if you want them to also be able to make pinpoint deliveries throughout cities safely. The problem is that drones run on batteries, which substantially limit their range, especially once you load them up with cargo.

One approach to try to offset the low range of delivery drones by flying them from vehicles that can serve as base stations. This idea has been tested by companies like Mercedes-Benz and Matternet, and also by UPS and Workhorse, among others. Now here’s another idea: Instead of deploying a fleet of private vans, you could rely on a vast network of vehicles that’s already on the road: public buses. In a paper presented at ICRA this month, researchers from Stanford’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory and Autonomous Systems Lab have explored how a transit-based delivery drone system might work, and it turns out that it might work really well—in cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C., hitchhiking on buses could potentially help drones more than quadruple their package delivery range. 

We Can Do Better Than Human-Like Hands for Robots

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/we-can-do-better-than-humanlike-hands-for-robots

Journal Watch report logo, link to report landing page

One strategy for designing robots that are capable in anthropomorphic environments is to make the robots themselves as anthropomorphic as possible. It makes sense—for example, there are stairs all over the place because humans have legs, and legs are good at stairs, so if we give robots legs like humans, they’ll be good at stairs too, right? We also see this tendency when it comes to robotic grippers, because robots need to grip things that have been optimized for human hands. 

Despite some amazing robotic hands inspired by the biology of our own human hands, there are also opportunities for creativity in gripper designs that do things human hands are not physically capable of. At ICRA 2020, researchers from Stanford University presented a paper on the design of a robotic hand that has fingers made of actuated rollers, allowing it to manipulate objects in ways that would tie your fingers into knots.

Video Friday: Jet-Powered Flying Humanoid Robot Gets One Step Closer

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-jet-powered-ironcub-flying-humanoid-robot

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.


Robotic Third Arm Can Smash Through Walls

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/robotic-third-arm-can-smash-through-walls

When we’ve written about adding useful robotic bits to people in the past, whether it’s some extra fingers or an additional arm or two, the functionality has generally been limited to slow moving, lightweight tasks. Holding or carrying things. Stabilizing objects or the user. That sort of thing. But that’s not what we want. What we want are wearable robotic arms that turn us into a superhero, like Marvel Comics’ Doc Ock, who I’m just going to go ahead and assume is a good guy because those robotic arms strapped to his torso look awesome.

At ICRA this week, researchers from Université de Sherbrooke in Canada are finally giving us what we want, in the form of a waist-mounted remote controlled hydraulic arm that can help you with all kinds of tasks while also being able, should you feel the need, to smash through walls.

HAMR-Jr Is a Speedy Quadrupedal Robot the Size of a Penny

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/hamrjr-is-a-speedy-quadrupedal-robot-the-size-of-a-penny

The last time we checked in with the Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR) was in 2018, when I spent far too much time trying (with a very small amount of what might charitably be called success) to adapt some MC Hammer lyrics for an article intro. Despite having “micro robot” right in the name, if we’re talking about insect scale, HAMR was a bit chunky, measuring about 5 centimeters long and weighing around 3 grams. At ICRA this week, we’ve been introduced to a new version of HAMR, called HAMR-Jr, which is significantly smaller: just a tenth of the weight, and comes up to about knee-high on a cockroach.

Robot Learns to Cook Your Perfect Omelet

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/robot-learns-to-cook-your-perfect-omelette

Cooking robots have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. We’re not yet at the point where we’ve got robot arms dangling from the ceiling that do all the work for us, but there are a bunch of robots out there with reasonable cookie-making skills. However, we’ve mostly seen cooking robots that are programmed to follow a specific recipe, rather than cooking robots that are programmed to cook you exactly what you want. Sometimes these are the same thing, but often cooking is (I’m told) much more about adapting a recipe to your individual taste.  

For personal cooking robots to make us food that we love, they’re going to need to be able to listen to our feedback, understand what that feedback means, and then take actions to adapt their recipe or technique to achieve the desired outcome. This is more complicated than, say, adding less salt next time because it was too salty this time—the robots will have to work with less easily definable things like appearance and texture, and the totally subjective nature of human taste.

At ICRA 2020 this week, roboticists from the University of Cambridge, in the U.K., presented a paper on OmeletteBot, a fully autonomous end-to-end omelet-cooking robot. What’s new here is that the robot is able to optimize its omelet making for different people based on how they react to a few sample omelets. Your perfect omelet is now within reach.

Salto Jumping Robot Masters Pinpoint Landings

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/salto-jumping-robot-masters-pinpoint-landings

One of the things that we love about UC Berkeley’s Salto jumping robot is just how much better it gets, year after year. And these changes aren’t just incremental—the little robot’s capabilities seem to improve by leaps and bounds, as it were. The latest upgrade, presented at Virtual ICRA 2020 this week, is particularly impressive, since Salto has learned how to very precisely stop jumping exactly where you want it to.

Video Friday: Robot vs. Human Workout Challenge

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/video-friday-digit-robot-personal-trainer

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 – May 31, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]  * * * STARTS SUNDAY!  REGISTER NOW! * * *
RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]
CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia
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.


The Biggest Robotics Research Conference Is Now More Accessible Than Ever

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/virtual-icra-robotics-research-conference

If it wasn’t for COVID-19, we’d probably be in Paris right now, enjoying the beautiful weather, stuffing ourselves with pastries, and getting ready for another amazing edition of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), the world’s largest robotics research gathering. We’re not doing any of that, of course. Personally, I’ve barely left my house since March, and the in-person ICRA conference in Paris was quite sensibly cancelled a while ago.

The good news, however, is that ICRA is now a virtual conference instead, and the reason that it’s good news (and not just some sad pandemic-y compromise) is that the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) and the ICRA conference committees have put in an astonishing amount of work in a very short period of time to bring the entire conference online in a way that actually seems like it might work out pretty well for everyone.