Video Friday: Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robots Pull a Truck, and More

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!): Nîmes Robotics Festival – May 17-19, 2019 – Nîmes, France Isolierband Robotics Competition – May 19, 2019 – Israel ICRA 2019 – May 20-24, 2019 – Montreal, Canada 2nd Annual Robotics Summit & Expo – June 4-6, 2019 – Boston, Mass., USA ICUAS 2019 – June 11-14, 2019 – Atlanta, Ga., USA Energy Drone Coalition Summit – June 12-13, 2019 – Woodlands, Texas, USA Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K. ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Home Robot Control for People With Disabilities

Georgia Tech’s augmented-reality interface gives control over complex robots to the people who need them Robots offer an opportunity to enable people to live safely and comfortably in their homes as they grow older. In the near future (we’re all hoping), robots will be able to help us by cooking, cleaning, doing chores, and generally taking care of us, but they’re not yet at the point where they can do those sorts of things autonomously. Putting a human in the loop can help robots be useful more quickly, which is especially important for the people who would benefit the most from this technology—specifically, folks with disabilities that make them more reliant on care. Ideally, the people who need things done would be the people in the loop telling the robot what to do, but that can be particularly challenging for those with disabilities that limit how mobile they are. If you Continue reading Home Robot Control for People With Disabilities

NASA Launching Astrobee Robots to Space Station Tomorrow

A pair of autonomous, free-flying robots will be on their way to the ISS It’s been a little over two years since we were first introduced to Astrobee, an autonomous robotic cube designed to fly around the International Space Station. Tomorrow, a pair of Astrobee robots (named Honey and Bumble) will launch to the ISS aboard a Cygnus cargo flight. There’s already a nice comfy dock waiting for them in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and the plan is to put them to work as soon as possible. After a bit of astronaut-assisted setup, the robots will buzz around autonomously, doing experiments and taking video, even operating without direct human supervision on occasion. NASA has big plans for these little robots, and before they head off to space, we checked in with folks from the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., to learn about what we have Continue reading NASA Launching Astrobee Robots to Space Station Tomorrow

The Buddy System: Human-Computer Teams

The highest accuracy in face recognition comes through the partnering of a human expert with face recognition software Is that him? Is she the one? A prized attribute among law enforcement specialists, the expert ability to visually identify human faces can inform forensic investigations and help maintain safe border crossings, airports, and public spaces around the world. The field of forensic facial recognition depends on highly refined traits such as visual acuity, cognitive discrimination, memory recall, and elimination of bias. Humans, as well as computers running machine learning (ML) algorithms, possess these abilities. And it is the combination of the two—a human facial recognition expert teamed with a computer running ML analyses of facial image data—that provides the most accurate facial identification, according to a recent 2018 study in which Rama Chellappa, Distinguished University Professor and Minta Martin Professor of Engineering, and his team collaborated with researchers at the National Continue reading The Buddy System: Human-Computer Teams

Inflatable Robots Are Destined for Space, If We Can Control Them

With funding from NASA, researchers are exploring how to control inflatable robots for future space missions We don’t see a lot of inflatable robots, which is really too bad, because they’re weirdly excellent at being exactly the sort of robot that everybody seems to want: They’re cheap, being made of mostly fabric and rubber, and they’re very easy to fix. Relative to most other robots, they’re extraordinarily lightweight, and they pack down to a small fraction of their size once deflated. Despite their squishiness, they can be strong and unexpectedly fast, since they’re essentially hydraulic in nature. And perhaps most important, in most cases they’re passively safe, since they don’t have much in the way of rigid components or the inertia that comes with them. The downside of inflatable robots is that in general they’re not very good at precise, repeatable control, precisely because they’re so floppy. It’s hard to keep Continue reading Inflatable Robots Are Destined for Space, If We Can Control Them

Video Friday: Soft Robots, and More

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!): RoboSoft 2019 – April 14-18, 2019 – Seoul, Korea NIST ARIAC Challenge – April 15-19, 2019 – Online Nîmes Robotics Festival – May 17-19, 2019 – Nîmes, France ICRA 2019 – May 20-24, 2019 – Montreal, Canada 2nd Annual Robotics Summit & Expo – June 4-6, 2019 – Boston, Mass., USA ICUAS 2019 – June 11-14, 2019 – Atlanta, Ga., USA Energy Drone Coalition Summit – June 12-13, 2019 – Woodlands, Texas, USA Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K. ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Wing Officially Launches Australian Drone Delivery Service

After years of testing, Wing is now offering consumer drone delivery to select Australian suburbs Alphabet’s subsidiary Wing announced this week that it has officially launched a commercial drone delivery service “to a limited set of eligible homes in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin,” which are just north of Canberra, in Australia. Wing’s drones are able to drop a variety of small products, including coffee, food, and pharmacy items, shuttling them from local stores to customers’ backyards within minutes. We’ve been skeptical about whether this kind of drone delivery makes sense for a long, long time, and while this is certainly a major milestone for Wing, I’m still not totally convinced that the use-cases that Wing is pushing here are going to be sustainable long term.

Microsoft’s Brad Smith on How to Responsibly Deploy AI

Microsoft’s president talks about the promise and perils of artificial intelligence AI can reveal how many cigarettes a person has smoked based on the DNA contained in a single drop of their blood, or scrutinize Islamic State propaganda to discover whether violent videos are radicalizing potential recruits.  Because AI is such a powerful tool, Microsoft president Brad Smith told the crowd at Columbia University’s recent Data Science Day that tech companies and universities performing AI research must also help ensure the ethical use of such technologies.

Blue Is a New Low-Cost Force-Controlled Robot Arm from UC Berkeley

Designed to safely perform human-scale tasks, Blue will cost $5k and help accelerate research towards useful home robots Robots are well-known for being very good at some very specific things. They’re often defined by words like “precision” and “repeatability” and “speed,” because if you want a robot to be uniquely useful, it’s usually going to have to leverage one or more of those characteristics in a way that makes it better at some specific task than humans are. Robots have been doing this for decades, typically in places like industrial settings, but things are starting to change, and roboticists are beginning to look towards other applications in more unconstrained, dynamic environments, like non-industrial settings. Such environments (our homes, for example) are the kinds of places that we really, really want robots to be useful in. We want them doing our chores so that we don’t have to, ideally without causing Continue reading Blue Is a New Low-Cost Force-Controlled Robot Arm from UC Berkeley

Video Friday: Toyota’s Basketball Robot, and More

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!): U.S. National Robotics Week – April 6-14, 2019 – USA We Robot 2019 – April 11-13, 2019 – Miami, Fla., USA RoboSoft 2019 – April 14-18, 2019 – Seoul, Korea NIST ARIAC Challenge – April 15-19, 2019 – Online Nîmes Robotics Festival – May 17-19, 2019 – Nîmes, France ICRA 2019 – May 20-24, 2019 – Montreal, Canada 2nd Annual Robotics Summit & Expo – June 4-6, 2019 – Boston, Mass., USA Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.