Video Friday: Africa’s Lake Kivu Drone 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!): DARPA SubT Urban Circuit – February 18-27, 2020 – Olympia, Wash., USA HRI 2020 – March 23-26, 2020 – Cambridge, U.K. ICARSC 2020 – April 15-17, 2020 – Ponta Delgada, Azores ICRA 2020 – May 31-4, 2020 – Paris, France ICUAS 2020 – June 9-12, 2020 – Athens, Greece CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

Illustration: Chris Philpot Many young urbanites don’t want to own a car, and unlike earlier generations, they don’t have to rely on mass transit. Instead they treat mobility as a service: When they need to travel significant distances, say, more than 5 miles (8 kilometers), they use their phones to summon an Uber (or a car from a similar ride-sharing company). If they have less than a mile or so to go, they either walk or use various “micromobility” services, such as the increasingly ubiquitous Lime and Bird scooters or, in some cities, bike sharing. The problem is that today’s mobility-as-a-service ecosystem often doesn’t do a good job covering intermediate distances, say a few miles. Hiring an Uber or Lyft for such short trips proves frustratingly expensive, and riding a scooter or bike more than a mile or so can be taxing to many people. So getting yourself to a destination that Continue reading Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

How Robotics Teams Prepared for DARPA’s SubT Challenge: Urban Circuit

Six months ago, 11 teams and their robots took on the NIOSH research mine in the Tunnel Circuit of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. Next week, those 11 teams will travel to Washington State, where they’ll compete in the SubT Urban Circuit at Satsop Business Park just outside of Olympia. A six-month break between events is not a lot of time, and from what we’ve heard, teams have been working feverishly take everything they learned during the Tunnel Circuit and prepare themselves for the Urban Circuit. But the urban underground is very different from a mine, and teams’ strategy (and hardware) will have to adapt to this new environment. Over the last few weeks, we sent each team three questions about what lessons they took away from the Tunnel Circuit, how they’ve been getting ready for the next challenge, and how they expect things to be different this time around. The Continue reading How Robotics Teams Prepared for DARPA’s SubT Challenge: Urban Circuit

DARPA’s Tim Chung Answers Our Questions About the SubT Challenge Urban Circuit

With the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit kicking off on Thursday, we made sure to have a chat in advance with Dr. Timothy Chung, DARPA SubT program manager. We last spoke with Tim nearly a year ago, just after SubT was announced, to get his perspective on the Subterranean Challenge in general, and we took the opportunity in this interview to ask about how DARPA felt about the Tunnel Circuit, and what we have to look forward to in the Urban Circuit. For more details about the SubT Urban Circuit, make sure to check out our course preview post, and check back tomorrow for a Q&A with the systems track teams.

DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Urban Circuit Preview

The Urban Circuit of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is the second of four robotics competitions that send teams of state-of-the-art robots into challenging underground environments in an attempt to seek out artifacts while creating detailed maps. Last August, the robots explored a man-made tunnel system in the NIOSH research mine near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And starting this Thursday, the teams will be taking on the urban underground, at Satsop Business Park in Elma, Wash.

Video Friday: CMU Team Prepares for DARPA Subterranean 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!): DARPA SubT Urban Circuit – February 18-27, 2020 – Olympia, Wash., USA HRI 2020 – March 23-26, 2020 – Cambridge, U.K. ICARSC 2020 – April 15-17, 2020 – Ponta Delgada, Azores ICRA 2020 – May 31-4, 2020 – Paris, France ICUAS 2020 – June 9-12, 2020 – Athens, Greece CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Iran Unveils Its Most Advanced Humanoid Robot Yet

A little over a decade ago, researchers at the University of Tehran introduced a rudimentary humanoid robot called Surena. An improved model capable of walking, Surena II, was announced not long after, followed by the more capable Surena III in 2015. Now the Iranian roboticists have unveiled Surena IV. The new robot is a major improvement over previous designs. A video highlighting its capabilities shows the robot mimicking a person’s pose, grasping a water bottle, and writing its name on a whiteboard. Surena is also shown taking a group selfie with its human pals.

How We Trained a Deep Neural Pilot to Autonomously Fly the Skydio Drone

A version of this article was originally published on Medium. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. We here at Skydio have been developing and deploying machine learning systems for years due to their ability to scale and improve with data. However, to date our learning systems have only been used for interpreting information about the world; in this post, we present our first machine learning system for actually acting in the world. Using a novel learning algorithm, the Skydio autonomy engine, and only 3 hours of “off-policy” logged data, we trained a deep neural network pilot that is capable of filming and tracking a subject while avoiding obstacles.

Meet Haru, the Unassuming Big-Eyed Robot Helping Researchers Study Social Robotics

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. Honda Research Institute’s (HRI) experimental social robot Haru was first introduced at the ACM/IEEE Human Robot Interaction conference in 20181. The robot is designed as a platform to investigate social presence and emotional and empathetic engagement for long-term human interaction. Envisioned as a multimodal communicative agent, Haru interacts through nonverbal sounds (paralanguage), eye, face, and body movements (kinesics), and voice (language). While some of Haru’s features connect it to a long lineage of social robots, others distinguish it and suggest new opportunities for human-robot interaction. Haru is currently in its first iteration, with plans underway for future development. Current research with Haru is conducted with core partners of the Socially Intelligent Robotics Consortium (SIRC), described in more detail below, and it concentrates on its potential to Continue reading Meet Haru, the Unassuming Big-Eyed Robot Helping Researchers Study Social Robotics