Video Friday: Little Robot, Big Stairs
Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.
CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Enjoy today’s videos!
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a robotic system that enables a low-cost and relatively small legged robot to climb and descend stairs nearly its height; traverse rocky, slippery, uneven, steep and varied terrain; walk across gaps; scale rocks and curbs, and even operate in the dark.
[ CMU ]
This robot is designed as a preliminary platform for humanoid robot research. The platform will be further extended with soles as well as upper limbs. In this video, the current lower limb version of the platform has shown its capability on traversing over uneven terrains without active or passive ankle joint. This under-actuation nature of the robot system has been well addressed with our locomotion control framework, which also provides a new perspective on the leg design of bipedal robot.
[ CLEAR Lab ]
Inbiodroid is a startup “dedicated to the development of fully immersive telepresence technologies that create a deeper connection between people and their environment.” Hot off the ANA Avatar XPRIZE competition, they’re doing a Kickstarter to fund the next generation of telepresence robots.
A robot that can feel what a therapist feels when treating a patient, that can adjust the intensity of rehabilitation exercises at any time according to the patient’s abilities and needs, and that can thus go on for hours without getting tired: it seems like fiction, and yet researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and imec have now finished a prototype that unites all these skills in one robot.
[ VUB ]
Self-driving bikes present some special challenges, as this excellent video graphically demonstrates.
[ Paper ]
Pickle robots unload trucks. This is a short overview of the Pickle Robot Unload System in Action at the end of October 2022—autonomously picking floor-loaded freight to unload a trailer. As a robotic system built on AI and advanced sensors, the system gets better and faster all the time.
[ Pickle ]
Learning agile skills can be challenging with reward shaping. Imitation learning provides an alternative solution by assuming access to decent expert references. However, such experts are not always available. We propose Wasserstein Adversarial Skill Imitation (WASABI) which acquires agile behaviors from partial and potentially physically incompatible demonstrations. In our work, Solo, a quadruped robot learns highly dynamic skills (e.g. backflips) from only hand-held human demonstrations.
[ WASABI ]
NASA and the European Space Agency are developing plans for one of the most ambitious campaigns ever attempted in space: bringing the first samples of Mars material safely back to Earth for detailed study. The diverse set of scientifically curated samples now being collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover could help scientists answer the question of whether ancient life ever arose on the Red Planet.
I thought I was promised some helicopters?
[ NASA ]
A Sanctuary general-purpose robot picks up and sorts medicine pills.
Remotely controlled, if that wasn’t clear.
[ Sanctuary ]
I don’t know what’s going on here, but it scares me.
[ KIMLAB ]
The Canadian Space Agency plans to send a rover to the Moon as early as 2026 to explore a polar region. The mission will demonstrate key technologies and accomplish meaningful science. Its objectives are to gather imagery, measurements, and data on the surface of the Moon, as well as to have the rover survive an entire night on the Moon. Lunar nights, which last about 14 Earth days, are extremely cold and dark, posing a significant technological challenge.
[ CSA ]
Covariant Robotic Induction automates previously manual induction processes. This video shows the Covariant Robotic Induction solution picking a wide range of item types from totes, scanning barcodes, and inducting items onto a unit sorter. Note the robot’s ability to effectively handle items that are traditionally difficult to pick, such as transparent polybagged apparel and oddly shaped, small health and beauty items, and place them precisely onto individual trays.
[ Covariant ]
The solution will integrate Boston Dynamics’ Spot® robot, the ExynPak™ powered by ExynAI™ and the Trimble® X7 total station. It will enable fully autonomous missions inside complex and dynamic construction environments, which can result in consistent and precise reality capture for production and quality control workflows.
[ Exyn ]
Our most advanced programmable robot yet is back and better than ever. Sphero RVR+ includes an advanced gearbox to improve torque and payload capacity, enhanced sensors including an improved color sensor, and an improved rechargeable and swappable battery.
[ Sphero ]
I’m glad Starship is taking this seriously, although it’s hard to know from this video how well the robots behave when conditions are less favorable.
[ Starship ]
Complexity, cost, and power requirements for the actuation of individual robots can play a large factor in limiting the size of robotic swarms. Here we present PCBot, a minimalist robot that can precisely move on an orbital shake table using a bi-stable solenoid actuator built directly into its PCB. This allows the actuator to be built as part of the automated PCB manufacturing process, greatly reducing the impact it has on manual assembly.
[ Paper ]
Drone racing world champion Thomas Bitmatta designed an indoor drone racing track for ETH Zurich’s autonomous high speed racing drones, and in something like half an hour, the autonomous drones were able to master the track at superhuman speeds (with the aid of a motion capture system).
Moravec’s paradox is the observation that many things that are difficult to do for robots to do come easily to humans, and vice versa. Stanford University professor Chelsea Finn has been tasked to explain this concept to 5 different people; a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert.
[ Wired ]
Roberto Calandra from Meta AI gives a talk about “Perceiving, Understanding, and Interacting through Touch.”
[ UPenn ]
AI advancements have been motivated and inspired by human intelligence for decades. How can we use AI to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world and ourselves? How can we leverage AI to enrich our lives? In his Tanner Lecture, Eric Horvitz, Chief Science Officer at Microsoft, will explore these questions and more, tracing the arc of intelligence from its origins and evolution in humans, to its manifestations and prospects in the tools we create and use.
[ UMich ]