Autonomous Vehicles


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.


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.


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.


Video Friday: Honda's Huggable Robot, New Artificial Muscle, and Boeing Cargo Drone

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!):


This Autonomous Quadrotor Swarm Doesn't Need GPS

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The vast majority of the fancy autonomous flying we've seen from quadrotors has relied on some kind of external localization for position information. Usually it's a motion capture system, sometimes it's GPS, but either way, there's a little bit of cheating involved. This is not to say that we mind cheating, but the problem with cheating is that sometimes you can't cheat, and if you want your quadrotors to do tricks where you don't have access to GPS or the necessary motion capture hardware and software, you're out of luck.


Video Friday: Rocket RoboBee, Willow Garage, and Caltech's Cassie

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 two 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. A new RoboBee from Harvard can swim underwater, and then launch itself into the air with a microrocket and fly away. At the millimeter scale, the water's surface might as well be a brick wall.


Video Friday: DARPA's LUKE Arm, Human Support Robot, and Starting a Robotics Company

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 two 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. Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D firm, with support from DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program, designed the advanced prosthetic LUKE Arm to give amputees "dexterous arm and hand movement through a simple, intuitive control system." The LUKE Arm, which stands for Life Under Kinetic Evolution but is also a reference to Luke Skywalker's bionic hand, "allows users to control multiple joints simultaneously and provides a variety of grips and grip forces by means of wireless signals generated by sensors worn on the feet or via other easy-to-use controllers."