Last week, Sony and Carnegie Mellon University announced a collaboration "on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics research." Usually, these announcements pretty much just end there, with the implication being that giant corporation X will support academic research institution Y by funding ongoing research or a string of new initiatives. This Sony/CMU announcement is a bit more exciting because of how specific it is: The project will be about food. Researchers will focus on defining the domain of food ordering, preparation, and delivery. Initially, they will build upon existing manipulation robots and mobile robots, and will plan on developing new domain-specific robots for predefined food preparation items and for mobility in a limited confined space.
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!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. With all the hype about SpotMini recently, it's a good time to take a look back at another quadruped that Boston Dynamics helped develop. This system is the first of its kind that can automatically keep a cluttered room neat and tidy at a practical level, something that has been difficult to achieve using conventional robot system.
Sheer cliff faces present a traversal challenge for most wheeled robots on the market, but researchers at the University of Tokyo say they've developed a two-robot framework that works pretty reliably in their testing. In a newly published paper on the preprint server Arxiv.org "[We] propose a novel cooperative system for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) which utilizes the UAV not only as a flying sensor but also as a tether attachment device," the authors of the paper explain. "[It enhances] the poor traversability of the UGV by not only providing a wider range of scanning and mapping from the air, but also by allowing the UGV to climb steep terrains with the winding of the tether." The UGV is permanently attached via mechanized winch and cable to the UAV, a custom-made quadcopter with an Nvidia Jetson TX2 chipset, a flight controller, and a raft of sensors including a modular fisheye camera, time-of-flight sensor, inertial measurement unit (IMU), and laser sensor.
In this paper, we present a motion planning framework for a fully deployed autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle which integrates two sample-based motion planning techniques, Probabilistic Roadmaps and Rapidly Exploring Random Trees. Additionally, we incorporate dynamic reconfigurability into the framework by integrating the motion planners with the control kernel of the UAV in a novel manner with little modification to the original algorithms. The framework has been verified through simulation and in actual flight. Empirical results show that these techniques used with such a framework offer a surprisingly efficient method for dynamically reconfiguring a motion plan based on unforeseen contingencies which may arise during the execution of a plan. The framework is generic and can be used for additional platforms.