Locomotion


Meet Salto, the One-Legged Robot With an Incredible Leap

WIRED

"The basic idea is that these jumping animals are just better at crouching," says Haldane. "They have a better crouched posture, which lets their muscles store a lot of energy in their tendons and then release it later to power really, really high jumps." Evolution methodically shaped the bushbaby over millions of years, but that doesn't mean you have to design a perfect mimic to harness the animal's powers. Now, the cool thing here isn't that Salto pulls the record for robotic leaps with its four-foot jump--other robots can jump higher--but that it can jump at a wall, then pull off a second jump.


China's e-commerce dynamo JD makes deliveries via mobile robots

Robohub

China's second-biggest e-commerce company, JD.com (Alibaba is first), is testing mobile robots to make deliveries to its customers, and imagining a future with fully unmanned logistics systems. It's the first time that the company has used delivery robots in the field. JD has been testing delivery robots since November last year. The UGVs now cost $7,300 per robotic unit which JD figures can reduce delivery costs from less than $1 for a human delivery to about 20 cents for a robot delivery.


Sony's unorthodox take on AI is now open source

#artificialintelligence

On one hand, it will help developers build smarts into products, and on the other, Sony is hoping that developers will "further build on the core libraries' programs," it writes. We gladly give props to Sony as an AI pioneer, but its current products like the aforementioned Xperia Ear, which uses the Siri-like Xperia Agent, are pretty rough compared to the Echo or Google Assistant. Specifically, we noted in our review that Sony's assistant doesn't have a very natural speaking voice compared to rivals, and isn't, well, very smart. However, Sony's AI offerings are certainly unique.


Sony's unorthodox take on AI is now open source

Engadget

However, let's remember that it was on the forefront of deep learning with products like the Aibo robot dog, and has used it recently in the Echo-like Xperia Agent (above) and Xperia Ear. Sony joins its rivals Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others in making its AI open source. On one hand, it will help developers build smarts into products, and on the other, Sony is hoping that developers will "further build on the core libraries' programs," it writes. However, Sony's AI offerings are certainly unique.


Video Friday: Valkyrie on Rough Terrain, Harvard Arthropods, and Flying Wheeled Robot

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

I suppose you could decide that this project from MIT's Tangible Media Group isn't really a robot, but I think it's arguably robotic enough (and definitely cool enough) that we can let it slide for this week: We present AnimaStage: a hands-on animated craft platform based on an actuated stage. At the end of every semester, UC Berkeley has a design showcase in Jacobs Hall. My modified Racing Roomba takes on the obstacle course at UC Berkeley's annual student vehicle challenge. If so, they didn't put it on this table: Two modules of EJBot propeller-type climbing robot which use a hybrid actuation system.


The creepiest videos from the robotics company Google just sold

Mashable

And by that, we mean Google just sold off Boston Dynamics -- the company that designs and engineers all those creepy-looking, terrifyingly capable robots. Tell me you are not terrified watching this humanoid open the doors of buildings like it's NBD, walking through the woods, stacking boxes, and jumping unnaturally high jumps. WildCat is a no, but SpotMini -- Boston Dynamics' small dog robot thing -- is not much better. Fake Santa Clauses being pulled by trotting robot dogs masquerading as reindeer?


SoftBank to buy two walking robot manufacturers from Google's parent company Alphabet

The Independent

SoftBank said it would buy two firms that build walking robots from Google's parent company, Alphabet, adding to the Japanese company's growing artificial intelligence portfolio. "Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution, and Marc (Raibert) and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots," SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son said in a statement on Friday. Japan's On-Art Corp's CEO Kazuya Kanemaru poses with his company's eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot'TRX03' and other robots during a demonstration in Tokyo, Japan Japan's On-Art Corp's eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot'TRX03' performs during its unveiling in Tokyo, Japan Singulato Motors co-founder and CEO Shen Haiyin poses in his company's concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China A picture shows Singulato Motors' concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China Connected company president Shigeki Tomoyama addresses a press briefing as he elaborates on Toyota's "connected strategy" in Tokyo. A Toyota Motors employee demonstrates a smartphone app with the company's pocket plug-in hybrid (PHV) service on the cockpit of the latest Prius hybrid vehicle during Toyota's "connected strategy" press briefing in Tokyo An employee shows a Samsung Electronics' Gear S3 Classic during Korea Electronics Show 2016 in Seoul, South Korea Visitors experience Samsung Electronics' Gear VR during the Korea Electronics Grand Fair at an exhibition hall in Seoul, South Korea Amy Rimmer, Research Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, demonstrates the car manufacturer's Advanced Highway Assist in a Range Rover, which drives the vehicle, overtakes and can detect vehicles in the blind spot, during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire Chris Burbridge, Autonomous Driving Software Engineer for Tata Motors European Technical Centre, demonstrates the car manufacturer's GLOSA V2X functionality, which is connected to the traffic lights and shares information with the driver, during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire In its facilities, JAXA develop satellites and analyse their observation data, train astronauts for utilization in the Japanese Experiment Module'Kibo' of the International Space Station (ISS) and develop launch vehicles The robot developed by Seed Solutions sings and dances to the music during the Japan Robot Week 2016 at Tokyo Big Sight.


Finally! Google sells Boston Dynamics to SoftBank

Robohub

Both Boston Dynamics and Schaft were acquired by Google when Andy Rubin was developing Google's robot group through a series of acquisitions. Boston Dynamics, a DARPA and DoD-funded 25 year old company, designed two and four-legged robots for the military. Schaft, a Japanese startup/participant in the DARPA Robotic Challenge, recently unveiled a two-legged robot that climbed stairs, can carry 125 pounds of payload, move in tight spaces and keep its balance throughout. SoftBank, through another acquisition (of French Aldabaran, the maker of the Nao and Romeo robots), and in a joint venture with Foxconn and Alibaba, has developed and marketed thousands of Pepper robots.


3D-Printed Pneumatic Quadruped Robot Adapts to Rough Terrain

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

It was soft, it was pink, it had three wiggly legs that it used to position itself, and it was kinda freaky looking. Their latest paper, which will be presented at ICRA in Singapore next week, throws a fourth wiggly leg into the mix to make a soft quadruped robot that can walk. Soft robots (with soft actuators) have the potential to be easy and cheap to construct in lots of very different, very adaptable, and intrinsically safe configurations. Dylan Drotman, along with other students in Tolley's UCSD lab, have come up with a leg design that can be 3D-printed all in one go, and in fact, nearly an entire quadruped can "easily" be printed as a single part: Predictably, you can't just whip up these legs with any 3D printer: You need something that can print a custom mix of soft rubbery material and rigid material, resulting in an end product with adjustable firmness.


Soft-legged robot is designed for rescue missions

Engadget

Soft robots typically have squishy bodies and limbs so that they can squeeze into the tightest spaces. A team of engineers from the University of California San Diego have created a soft robot that can do just that. The robot moves by pumping air into its legs, which are inflatable chambers that are hollow on the inside. When one leg is inflated and the others aren't, for instance, the inflated leg bends.