Video Friday: Quadruped Robot HyQ Learning the Ninja Walk

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!): RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Research reflects how AI sees through the looking glass

Intrigued by how reflection changes images in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, a team of researchers used artificial intelligence to investigate what sets originals apart from their reflections. Their algorithms learned to pick up on unexpected clues such as hair parts, gaze direction and, surprisingly, beards – findings with implications for training machine learning models and detecting faked images. More details

Festo’s New Bio-Inspired Robots Include a Feathery Bionic Bird

I’ve completely lost track of time over the past couple of months (it’s been months, right?), but somehow, the folks over at Festo have held it together well enough to continue working on their Bionic Learning Network robots. Every year or two, Festo shows off some really quite spectacular bio-inspired creations, including robotic ants and butterflies, hopping kangaroos, rolling spiderbots, flying penguins and flying jellyfish, and much more. This year, Festo is demonstrating two new robots: BionicMobileAssistant (a “mobile robot system with pneumatic gripping hand”), and BionicSwift, a swarm of beautiful aerial birds.

Why We Need Robot Sloths

An inherent characteristic of a robot (I would argue) is embodied motion. We tend to focus on motion rather a lot with robots, and the most dynamic robots get the most attention. This isn’t to say that highly dynamic robots don’t deserve our attention, but there are other robotic philosophies that, while perhaps less visually exciting, are equally valuable under the right circumstances. Magnus Egerstedt, a robotics professor at Georgia Tech, was inspired by some sloths he met in Costa Rica to explore the idea of “slowness as a design paradigm” through an arboreal robot called SlothBot.

Bio-Ink for 3-D Printing Inside the Body

Right now, almost 70,000 people in the United States alone are on active waiting lists for organ donations. The dream of bio-printing is that one day, instead of waiting for a donor, a patient could receive, say, a kidney  assembled on demand from living cells using 3-D printing techniques. But one problem with this dream is that bio-printing an organ outside the body necessarily requires surgery to implant it.  This may mean large incisions, which in turn adds the risk of infection and increased recovery time for patients. Doctors would also have to postpone surgery until the necessary implant was bio-printed, vital time patients might not have.  A way around this problem could be provided by new bio-ink, composed of living cells suspended in a gel, that is safe for use inside people and could help enable 3-D printing in the body. Doctors could produce living parts inside patients through small incisions using Continue reading Bio-Ink for 3-D Printing Inside the Body

Coordinating complex behaviors between hundreds of robots

Researchers propose a new approach to finding an optimal solution for controlling large numbers of robots collaboratively completing a set of complex linear temporal logic commands called STyLuS*, for large-Scale optimal Temporal Logic Synthesis, that can solve problems massively larger than what current algorithms can handle, with hundreds of robots, tens of thousands of rooms and highly complex tasks, in a small fraction of the time. More details

Exploring interactions of light and matter

Growing up in a small town in Fujian province in southern China, Juejun Hu was exposed to engineering from an early age. His father, trained as a mechanical engineer, spent his career working first in that field, then in electrical engineering, and then civil engineering. “He gave me early exposure to the field. He brought me books and told me stories of interesting scientists and scientific activities,” Hu recalls. So when it came time to go to college — in China students have to choose their major before enrolling — he picked materials science, figuring that field straddled his interests in science and engineering. He pursued that major at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He never regretted that decision. “Indeed, it’s the way to go,” he says. “It was a serendipitous choice.” He continued on to a doctorate in materials science at MIT, and then spent four and a half years Continue reading Exploring interactions of light and matter

Cuddling Robot Baby Seal Paro Proven to Make Life Less Painful

Everybody loves Paro. Seriously, what’s not to love about Paro, the robotic baby harp seal designed as a therapeutic tool for use in hospitals and nursing homes? It’s cute, it’s cuddly, it wiggles and makes pleasing noises, and it’s been carefully designed to be the least uncanny valley robot you’ve ever met, because none of us are lucky enough to have real live baby harp seal experience to compare it to. Over the years, a bunch of studies have shown that Paro (which was designed from the beginning to be a medical device) is able to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood, particularly in older adults with dementia. What hasn’t been explored is Paro’s effect on physical pain—if something hurts, can Paro help you feel better? Nirit Geva, Florina Uzefovsky, and Shelly Levy-Tzedek at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, have just published a new study in Scientific Reports Continue reading Cuddling Robot Baby Seal Paro Proven to Make Life Less Painful