AI News, Video Friday: Strong Microbots, Holographic Robots, and Extreme Drone Flying

Video Friday: Strong Microbots, Holographic Robots, and Extreme Drone Flying

Yeah, so, you know how Video Friday last week was lighter than normal, and I was all like, “We have a light week this week,” and everyone was sad and disappointed and sad?My bad.

Usually, we try and save news that’sgoing to be presented at ICRA to post during the conference, so that we can attend the presentations,talk to the researchers, and get the latest details and updates.

But for some awful reason, the rest of the universe doesn’t respect our process (grumble), so let’s take a look at Stanford’s MicroTug robots that were in the news this week, which use gecko-inspired directional adhesive and a winch to haul around objects thousands of times its own weight.

The nature of directional adhesives means that the current incarnation of these robots only really function on glass or other substances that allow the adhesives to maintain sufficient surface contact.

We will model this domain as a MacDec-POMDP and introduce a planning algorithm capable of automatically generating controllers for the robots (in the form of finite-state machines) that collectively maximize team utility.

These projects involve robots with artificial intelligence, telepresence robots, and technology for attaching sensors to people to make computers easier to use.”

Imai Lab ]via [ DigInfo ] We’ve known for like eight years that robots are better than humans at mid-air refueling, but it’s taken until just now for the X-47B to take a shot at it:

X-47B ] While we’re on the topic of aerial refueling, have a look at this video showing one robot refueling (or recharging, rather)from another, for what could be the first time ever:

Paper (pdf) ] I’m not sure why we haven’t seen more videos of extreme quadcopter trick flying, since it’s what people seem to like to do with more traditional hobby-scale electric helicopters.

ZANO ] Robo Raven V utilizes both wings and propellers to generate a significantly greater amount of thrust and maneuverability, allowing it to perform tighter and more controlled aerobatics, carry greater payloads, fly for longer, and do realistic soaring and gliding.

Thanks to the artificial skin, which equips the robot with 4000 sensitive contact points, the iCub's control system measures the external forces and properly regulate these interactions in order to keep the balance.

He served three tours in the Middle East, two of which were spent leading an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, and deployed small remote-controlled robots to battle a blitz of insurgent-rigged car bombs and improvised explosive devices in and around Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2006.

RoboNation ] This last video may be an hour and 15 minutes long (in fact it is an hour and 15 minutes long), but it’s worth your time:Brett Kennedy, from theRobotic Vehicles and Manipulators Group atJPL, discusses rescue robots, including both RoboSimian andSurrogate:

Roboticists say Boston Dynamic’s new nightmare robot is unlike anything ever seen before

Boston Dynamics, the Alphabet-owned robotics company, unveiled a new robot this week that robotics experts say is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

Marc Raibert, the CEO of Boston Dynamics, called it “nightmare inducing.” (Video of Handle was first seen in January, when venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson posted a YouTube video of Raibert introducing the new creation at a conference.) “It’s very impressive,” said Vikash Kumar, a robotics researcher at the University of Washington.

“To deal with an object that is comparable with its own weight changes the whole ballgame altogether.” Robots in warehouses now often act like mechanical shelving, carrying items from one part of the facility to another, saving humans time and future back problems.

It’s not that Handle is necessarily any more dangerous than other industrial robots, which have killed people who got in their way — like what happened when an engineer at a Volkswagen plant in Germany was crushed to death in 2015 by a stationary factory robot.

The search giant put Boston Dynamics up for sale last year after public relations at Alphabet expressed concerns that the nightmarish robots they made — like the two-legged humanoid Atlas and its massive robotic dog named Spot — were “terrifying” and “ready to take human jobs.” Though Google has — puzzlingly — yet to find a buyer for Boston Dynamics, the team clearly hasn’t stopped moving.

The Robot Dog That Can Open a Door Is Even More Impressive Than It Looks

From the looks of it, it’s an incredible piece of machinery with remarkably lifelike movements, showing a level of dynamism and coordination between its body and software that I’ve never seen before, and it certainly left some people at least slightly worried that we’re nearing a future in which robots will be able to let themselves out of the lab.

What’s impressive here is that the robot isn’t just agile enough to grab a door handle without either missing it by knocking on the door or grabbing the air, it’s also strong enough to pull it open and leverage its own weight to keep it open.

Assuming the robot isn’t completely remote controlled by an operator with exceptional motor skills, Spot probably had to be able to “see” the door handle, using some array of cameras and sensors, so it would know exactly where to place its claw and subsequently its foot to prop open the door, which shows a keen understanding of what its body is capable of.

In e-commerce logistics, for example, bin picking and picking things off a shelf of varied weights, colors, and sizes have been particularly challenging tasks for robots, and most robots on the warehouse floor act more like smart pallets that can move heavy boxes without banging into anyone’s shins or another shelf.

While Boston Dynamics isn’t showcasing a robot that can distinguish between two similarly shaped items on a shelf and pick the right one without knocking over everything else next to it, the robot dog in the video obviously knows how to use its grabber with an impressive level of precision and exert the right amount of force to complete its task.

What's new, Atlas?

What have you been up to lately, Atlas?

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