This AI Watched 100 Films to Learn How to Recognize a Kiss

A senior data scientist at Netflix trained an AI to detect kissing scenes in films—and had to take precautions to make sure the model didn’t confuse kissing with sex Like someone who has never been kissed, AI began learning the basics by binge-watching romantic film clips to see how Hollywood stars lock lips. By training deep learning algorithms that have already proven adept at recognizing faces and objects to also recognize steamy kissing scenes dramatized by professional actors, a data scientist has shown how AI systems could gain greater insight into the most intimate human activities.

Video Friday: This Robot Is Like a Roomba for Your Garden

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos 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 2019 – June 22-26, 2019 – Freiburg, Germany Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K. ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K. DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

iRobot Acquires Root Robotics to Boost STEM Education for Kids

Root promises to teach coding skills to children, starting as young as 4 years old In 2016, Harvard’s Wyss Institute introduced Root, a robot designed as a practical tool for teaching kids how to code. Root had been under development at Harvard for a solid three years at that point, and after a massive $400,000 Kickstarter showed that they really had something, Root Robotics was spun out in 2017 to take the little coding robot commercial. Today, iRobot is announcing the acquisition of Root Robotics, in order to “support iRobot’s plans to diversify its educational robot product offerings, further demonstrating its commitment to make robotic technology more accessible to educators, students and parents.” This makes a lot of sense for iRobot, which has historically been a big supporter of STEM education—National Robotics Week was pretty much their idea, after all. But iRobot itself only really had the iRobot Create and Create Continue reading iRobot Acquires Root Robotics to Boost STEM Education for Kids

Robot Fish Powered by Synthetic Blood Just Keeps Swimming

A liquid battery that doubles as hydraulic fluid helps this robot swim for up to 36 hours Living things are stupendously complicated, and when we make robots (even bio-inspired robots), we mostly just try and do the best we can to match the functionality of animals, rather than the details of their structure. One exception to this is hydraulic robots, which operate on the same principle as spiders do, by pumping pressurized fluid around to move limbs. This is more of a side effect than actual bio-inspiration, though, as spiders still beat robots in that they use their blood as both a hydraulic fluid and to do everything else that blood does, like transporting nutrients and oxygen where it’s needed. In a paper published in Nature this week, researchers from Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania are presenting a robotic fish that uses synthetic blood pumped through an artificial circulatory Continue reading Robot Fish Powered by Synthetic Blood Just Keeps Swimming

Dishcraft Robotics Takes Over Dishwashing From Humans

Washing dishes is a problem that robots can solve, at least in commercial kitchens The kinds of jobs that robots are ideal for are the kinds of jobs that humans just straight up do not want to do. This is where the whole “dull, dirty, dangerous” thing comes in, but even in those categories, some jobs are duller, dirtier, or more dangerous than others. These are the jobs that we should be focusing on robotizing—not just jobs that are possible to automate, but jobs that need to be automated because you simply can’t find enough humans to reliably do them.  One of these jobs is commercial dishwasher. It’s dull and dirty, and turnover is very high, with the average human quitting after just over a month and around 30 percent of dishwashing jobs going unfilled, according to one estimate. And if your dishwater doesn’t show up for work, everyone else Continue reading Dishcraft Robotics Takes Over Dishwashing From Humans

Massive 3D Dataset Helps Robots Understand What Things Are

PartNet is a new semantic database of common objects that brings a new level of real-world understanding to robots One of the things that makes humans so great at adapting to the world around us is our ability to understand entire categories of things all at once, and then use that general understanding to make sense of specific things that we’ve never seen before. For example, consider something like a lamp. We’ve all seen some lamps. Nobody has seen every single lamp there is. But in most cases, we can walk into someone’s house for the first time and easily identify all their lamps and how they work. Every once in a while, of course, there will be something incredibly weird that’ll cause you to have to ask, “Uh, is that a lamp? How do I turn it on?” But most of the time, our generalized mental model of lamps Continue reading Massive 3D Dataset Helps Robots Understand What Things Are

Video Friday: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Tries Dexterous Robot Hands

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos 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 2019 – June 22-26, 2019 – Freiburg, Germany Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K. ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K. Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

T-RHex Is a Hexapod Robot With Microspines on Its Feet

Tiny spikes allow this robot to climb its way up steep slopes and grip onto rough surfaces In Aaron Johnson’s “Robot Design & Experimentation” class at CMU, teams of students have a semester to design and build an experimental robotic system based on a theme. For spring 2019, that theme was “Bioinspired Robotics,” which is definitely one of our favorite kinds of robotics—animals can do all kinds of crazy things, and it’s always a lot of fun watching robots try to match them. They almost never succeed, of course, but even basic imitation can lead to robots with some unique capabilities. One of the projects from this year’s course, from Team ScienceParrot, is a new version of RHex called T-RHex (pronounced T-Rex, like the dinosaur). T-RHex comes with a tail, but more importantly, it has tiny tapered toes, which help it grip onto rough surfaces like bricks, wood, and concrete. It’s Continue reading T-RHex Is a Hexapod Robot With Microspines on Its Feet

Robotic Animal Agility

Packed with sensory systems and equipped with revolutionary joints, the ANYmal robot is perfectly at ease on even the roughest terrain An off-shore wind power platform, somewhere in the North Sea, on a freezing cold night, with howling winds and waves crashing against the impressive structure. An imperturbable ANYmal is quietly conducting its inspection. ANYmal, a medium sized dog-like quadruped robot, walks down the stairs, lifts a “paw” to open doors or to call the elevator and trots along corridors. Darkness is no problem: it knows the place perfectly, having 3D-mapped it. Its laser sensors keep it informed about its precise path, location and potential obstacles. It conducts its inspection across several rooms. Its cameras zoom in on counters, recording the measurements displayed. Its thermal sensors record the temperature of machines and equipment and its ultrasound microphone checks for potential gas leaks. The robot also inspects lever positions as well Continue reading Robotic Animal Agility

Sensitive Whiskers Could Make Small Drones Safer

This whisker sensing system can detect air pressure from objects even before they make physical contact Animals of all shapes and sizes have whiskers of some sort. Cats and dogs and rodents have them. Seals have them too. Some birds have them, as do insects and fish. Whiskers have shown up across such a diversity of animals because they’re an efficient and effective method of short range sensing. Besides just being able to detect objects that they come into direct contact with, whiskers can also sense fluid flows (like the speed and direction of moving air or water), and they work even if it’s dark or foggy or smoky.  While we’ve seen some research on whiskers before—I’m sure you remember the utterly adorable ShrewBot—there hasn’t been too much emphasis on adding whiskers to robots, likely because lidar and cameras offer more useful data at longer ranges. And that’s totally fine, Continue reading Sensitive Whiskers Could Make Small Drones Safer