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.

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.

Clearpath Robotics Now Supporting ROS on Windows

Part of the appeal of the Robot Operating System, or ROS, is that it’s much faster and easier to get started with robots because so much of the difficult and annoying groundwork is already done for you. This is totally true, but for many people, getting started with ROS adds a bunch of difficult and annoying groundwork of its own, in the form of Linux. All kinds of people will tell you, “Oh just learn Linux, it’s not so bad!” But sometimes, it really kind of is so bad, especially if all you want is for your robot to do cool stuff. Since 2018, Microsoft has been working on getting ROS to run on Windows, the operating system used by those of us who mostly just want our computers to work without having to think about them all that much (a statement that Linux users will surely laugh at). For that Continue reading Clearpath Robotics Now Supporting ROS on Windows

Zipline Launches Long Distance Drone Delivery of COVID-19 Supplies in the U.S.

Eighteen months ago, we traveled to Rwanda to see how Zipline had made fast, dependable drone delivery a critical part of medical supply infrastructure on a national scale. But outside of Africa, Zipline’s long-distance delivery drones have had to contend with complex and crowded airspace, decades of stale regulation, and a healthcare system that’s at least (sort of) functional, if not particularly agile.  Along with several other drone delivery companies, Zipline has been working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on small scale pilot projects over the past year or so to prove out the drone delivery concept, but progress has been slow. Now, though, COVID-19 has put enough additional stress on the U.S. healthcare system that the FAA has granted an emergency waiver to the Part 107 drone rules to allow North Carolina–based Novant Health to partner with Zipline on a beyond line-of-sight autonomous drone delivery service through Continue reading Zipline Launches Long Distance Drone Delivery of COVID-19 Supplies in the U.S.

World Turtle Day Celebrates Final Release of ROS 1

This past Saturday, May 23, was World Turtle Day, the day that celebrates the newest release of the turtle-themed Robot Operating System (ROS)—and also probably some actual turtles—and so we reached out to Open Robotics CEO Brian Gerkey and developer advocate Katherine Scott. We wanted to talk to them because this particular World Turtle Day also marked the release of the very last version of ROS 1: Noetic Ninjemys. From here on out, if you want some new ROS, it’s going to be ROS 2 whether you like it or not. For folks who have robots that have been running ROS 1 for the last 4,581 days (which is when the very first commit happened), it might be a tough transition, but Open Robotics says it’ll be worth it. Below is our brief Q&A with Gerkey and Scott, where they discuss whether it’s really going to be worth all the hassle to switch to ROS Continue reading World Turtle Day Celebrates Final Release of ROS 1

Video Friday: This Robot Wants to Talk to You

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 – June 01, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] 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.

High-Speed Robot Arm Hands Off Package to Delivery Drone

Urban delivery drones have their work cut out for them. We’re not really sure whether the whole business model for urban delivery by drone will ultimately make sense, but for it to have a chance at working, drones will certainly benefit from being as energy efficient and time efficient as possible. The biggest waste of time and energy happens during pickup and delivery, where the drone is hovering rather than moving. Hovering is necessary since these drones may be often delivering things (like food and beverages) that need to be kept mostly upright and not delivered by a parachute or something. If you were imagining the ideal drone delivery system, though, it would involve drones flying about at full speed, somehow picking up and delivering items safely without ever having to slow down. The pinpoint accuracy required by something like this isn’t something that we’re likely to see on a drone anytime Continue reading High-Speed Robot Arm Hands Off Package to Delivery Drone