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Video Friday: Boston Dynamics' Spot Goes to Work, and More

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

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. We already posted about the Atlas doing parkour video, which Marc Raibert first showed at IROS earlier this month; he also showed this video, which is just as interesting (if not quite as dramatic), since it shows SpotMini in what could be its first realistic commercial application. We have begun field testing the Spot robot for commercial usage around the world.


The Hunt for Robot Unicorns

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. Earlier this month I was in Denmark speaking at the R-18 robotics fair. Denmark is quite remarkable as, despite its size, it had two exits of robotics startups over US $100 million: Universal Robots and MiR, both acquired by U.S. electronics testing equipment maker Teradyne (currently valued around $7 billion). The talk I gave covered our observations at HAX over the past five years from investing in over two dozen robotics startups and meeting hundreds.


Skydio Announces SDK to Make World's Cleverest Drone Even Cleverer

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Skydio blew our minds when they announced the R1 back in February--it's by far the smartest, most autonomous consumer camera drone we've ever seen. The company promised that they'd keep on making the R1 even more capable, and today they're announcing a slew of upgrades, including a new software development kit (SDK) that lets you leverage the R1's obstacle-dodging cleverness in any custom application you can dream up. The Skydio R1 is amazing, and you should read our February article about it, but in a nutshell, it's a drone that uses an array of 12 cameras to dynamically detect and avoid obstacles while it tracks you and films what you're doing. This means that it can follow someone riding a mountain bike through a forest, dodging trees and branches and keeping them in frame the whole time. It's basically the kind of capability that every single company working on drone delivery has implicitly promised and so far failed to deliver, and now you can spend some cash (okay, kind of a lot of cash) and play with it yourself.


Video Friday: Lifelike Robot Heads, and More

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

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. Built by Engineered Arts, 2 Mesmer Heads perform a synchronised sequence. One is complete with lifelike skin and hair, the other is showing it's mechanical workings.


Video Friday: China's Legged Robots Parade, and More

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

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. Some of China's most advanced legged robots were prancing around the World Robot Conference in Beijing, including a small quadruped called Laikago from Unitree Robotics that we wrote about last year and a big quadruped from the China North Vehicle Research Institute. They all look very Boston Dynamics-y, except for the one that has six legs, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


Inspired by Nature: Autonomous Underwater Robotics

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Since he was a child, Derek Paley has been captivated by how shoals of fish move fluidly as a cohesive group, almost as if a single organism. As the Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education and director of the Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory at the University of Maryland, Paley is applying his long-standing source of inspiration to the cooperative control of autonomous vehicles. Fish are particularly interesting for Paley because of their sensory system. He explains that fish have a lateral line system, which is a series of sensors located on their exterior, sometimes appearing on their side as a stripe. With their lateral line sense, fish can perceive the direction and speed of nearby water flow, as well as predators and other obstacles.


Video Friday: Professor Ishiguro's New Robot Child, and More

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

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. Don't panic, but Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro has a new very (but not completely) lifelike robot child, which is supposed to be around 10 years old. Okay, panic if you want to.


Video Friday: Japanese Androids, Rolls-Royce Microrobots, and Robotic Racecar

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

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. Can someone please teach me how to be that stylish? This week Rolls-Royce announced that they're working on small robots designed to inspect engines: What's getting a little bit lost in the announcement is that the robots themselves are based on (and perhaps, at this point, entirely identical to) Harvard's HAMR robot that we covered back in February: The Velodyne VLS-128 is the world's most advanced LiDAR sensor.


DARPA's Semi-Disposable Gremlin Drones Will Fly by 2019

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The Dynetics solution involves deploying a towed, stabilized capture device below and away from the C-130.


Microdrones That Cooperate to Transport Objects Could Be Future of Warehouse Automation

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Last month, we wrote about autonomous quadrotors from the University of Pennsylvania that use just a VGA camera and an IMU to navigate together in swarms. Without relying on external localization or GPS, quadrotors like these have much more potential to be real-world useful, since they can operate without expensive and complex infrastructure, even indoors.