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.

Draper's Genetically Modified Cyborg DragonflEye Takes Flight

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

In January, we wrote about a cybernetic micro air vehicle under development at Draper called DragonflEye. The backpack interfaces directly with the dragonfly's nervous system to control it, and uses tiny solar panels to harvest enough energy to power itself without the need for batteries. The unique thing about DragonflEye (relative to other cyborg insects) is that it doesn't rely on spoofing the insect's sensors or controlling its muscles, but instead uses optical electrodes to inject steering commands directly into the insect's nervous system, which has been genetically tweaked to accept them. This means that the dragonfly can be controlled to fly where you want, without sacrificing the built-in flight skills that make insects the envy of all other robotic micro air vehicles.

ETH Zurich's Omnicopter Plays Fetch

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Even aircraft designed to hover, like helicopters and quadrotors, have preferential directions of orientation and travel where their particular arrangement of motors and control surfaces makes them most effective. ETH Zurich's Omnicopter goes about flying in a totally different way. We have developed a computationally efficient trajectory generator for six degrees-of-freedom multirotor vehicles, i.e. The fetching work comes from Dario Brescianini and Raffaello D'Andrea at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC), ETH Zurich, Switzerland.