HAMR-Jr Is a Speedy Quadrupedal Robot the Size of a Penny

The last time we checked in with the Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR) was in 2018, when I spent far too much time trying (with a very small amount of what might charitably be called success) to adapt some MC Hammer lyrics for an article intro. Despite having “micro robot” right in the name, if we’re talking about insect scale, HAMR was a bit chunky, measuring about 5 centimeters long and weighing around 3 grams. At ICRA this week, we’ve been introduced to a new version of HAMR, called HAMR-Jr, which is significantly smaller: just a tenth of the weight, and comes up to about knee-high on a cockroach.

Robot Learns to Cook Your Perfect Omelet

Cooking robots have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. We’re not yet at the point where we’ve got robot arms dangling from the ceiling that do all the work for us, but there are a bunch of robots out there with reasonable cookie-making skills. However, we’ve mostly seen cooking robots that are programmed to follow a specific recipe, rather than cooking robots that are programmed to cook you exactly what you want. Sometimes these are the same thing, but often cooking is (I’m told) much more about adapting a recipe to your individual taste.   For personal cooking robots to make us food that we love, they’re going to need to be able to listen to our feedback, understand what that feedback means, and then take actions to adapt their recipe or technique to achieve the desired outcome. This is more complicated than, say, adding less Continue reading Robot Learns to Cook Your Perfect Omelet

Salto Jumping Robot Masters Pinpoint Landings

One of the things that we love about UC Berkeley’s Salto jumping robot is just how much better it gets, year after year. And these changes aren’t just incremental—the little robot’s capabilities seem to improve by leaps and bounds, as it were. The latest upgrade, presented at Virtual ICRA 2020 this week, is particularly impressive, since Salto has learned how to very precisely stop jumping exactly where you want it to.

Giving soft robots feeling

One of the hottest topics in robotics is the field of soft robots, which utilizes squishy and flexible materials rather than traditional rigid materials. But soft robots have been limited due to their lack of good sensing. A good robotic gripper needs to feel what it is touching (tactile sensing), and it needs to sense the positions of its fingers (proprioception). Such sensing has been missing from most soft robots. In a new pair of papers, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) came up with new tools to let robots better perceive what they’re interacting with: the ability to see and classify items, and a softer, delicate touch.  “We wish to enable seeing the world by feeling the world. Soft robot hands have sensorized skins that allow them to pick up a range of objects, from delicate, such as potato chips, to heavy, such as milk Continue reading Giving soft robots feeling

Video Friday: Robot vs. Human Workout Challenge

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!): ICRA 2020 – May 31, 2020 – [Virtual Conference]  * * * STARTS SUNDAY!  REGISTER NOW! * * * RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

The Biggest Robotics Research Conference Is Now More Accessible Than Ever

If it wasn’t for COVID-19, we’d probably be in Paris right now, enjoying the beautiful weather, stuffing ourselves with pastries, and getting ready for another amazing edition of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), the world’s largest robotics research gathering. We’re not doing any of that, of course. Personally, I’ve barely left my house since March, and the in-person ICRA conference in Paris was quite sensibly cancelled a while ago. The good news, however, is that ICRA is now a virtual conference instead, and the reason that it’s good news (and not just some sad pandemic-y compromise) is that the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) and the ICRA conference committees have put in an astonishing amount of work in a very short period of time to bring the entire conference online in a way that actually seems like it might work out pretty well for everyone.

Computer vision and uncertainty in AI for robotic prosthetics

Researchers have developed new software that can be integrated with existing hardware to enable people using robotic prosthetics or exoskeletons to walk in a safer, more natural manner on different types of terrain. The new framework incorporates computer vision into prosthetic leg control, and includes robust artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that allow the software to better account for uncertainty. More details