Watch World Champion Soccer Robots Take on Humans at RoboCup

Humans may not be doomed at soccer quite yet RoboCup 2019 took place earlier this month down in Sydney, Australia. While there are many different events including RoboCup@Home, RoboCup Rescue, and a bunch of different soccer leagues, one of the most compelling events is middle-size league (MSL), where mobile robots each about the size of a fire hydrant play soccer using a regular size FIFA soccer ball. The robots are fully autonomous, making their own decisions in real time about when to dribble, pass, and shoot. The long-term goal of RoboCup is this: By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup. While the robots are certainly not there yet, they’re definitely getting closer.

Video Friday: This NASA Robot Uses “Fishhook Grippers” to Climb Rock Walls

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!): ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K. DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

How High Fives Help Us Get in Touch With Robots

Social touch is a cornerstone of human interaction, and robots are learning how to do it too The human sense of touch is so naturally ingrained in our everyday lives that we often don’t notice its presence. Even so, touch is a crucial sensing ability that helps people to understand the world and connect with others. As the market for robots grows, and as robots become more ingrained into our environments, people will expect robots to participate in a wide variety of social touch interactions. At Oregon State University’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CoRIS) Institute, I research how to equip everyday robots with better social-physical interaction skills—from playful high-fives to challenging physical therapy routines.  

Robots Have a Hard Time Grasping These “Adversarial Objects”

To make robot grasping more robust, researchers are designing objects that are as difficult as possible for robots to manipulate There’s been a bunch of research recently into adversarial images, which are images of things that have been modified to be particularly difficult for computer vision algorithms to accurately identify. The idea is that these kinds of images can be used to help design more robust computer vision algorithms, because their “adversarial” nature is sort of a deliberate worst-case scenario—if your algorithm can handle adversarial images, then it can probably handle most other things. Researchers at UC Berkeley have been extending this concept to robot grasping, with physical adversarial objects carefully designed to be tricky for conventional robot grippers to pick up. All it takes is a slight tweak to straightforward three-dimensional shapes, and a standard two-finger will have all kinds of trouble finding a solid grasp.

Robots Made Out of Branches Use Deep Learning to Walk

Researchers used deep reinforcement learning to teach these strange robots how to move Designing robots is a finicky process, requiring an exhaustive amount of thought and care. It’s usually necessary to have a very clear idea of what you want your robot to do and how you want it to do it, and then you build a prototype, discover everything that’s wrong with it, build something different and better, and repeat until you run out of time and/or money. But robots don’t necessarily have to be this complicated, as long as your expectations for what they should be able to do are correspondingly low. In a paper presented at a NeurIPS workshop last December, a group of researchers from the University of Tokyo and Preferred Networks experimented with building mobile robots out of a couple of generic servos plus stuff you can find on the ground, like tree branches. 

Video Friday: NASA Is Sending This Flying Robot to Saturn’s Moon Titan

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!): MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, UK 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.

Robot Squid and Robot Scallop Showcase Bio-inspired Underwater Propulsion

Animals have lots of creative ways of moving through the water, and robots are stealing them Most underwater robots use one of two ways of getting around. Way one is with propellers, and way two is with fins. But animals have shown us that there are many more kinds of underwater locomotion, potentially offering unique benefits to robots. We’ll take a look at two papers from ICRA this year that showed bioinspired underwater robots moving in creative new ways: A jet-powered squid robot that can leap out of the water, plus a robotic scallop that moves just like the real thing.

Solar-Powered RoboBee X-Wing Flies Untethered

Just this week, in this very galaxy, X-Wing achieves liftoff The first generation of robotic bees were designed to be very bee-like, featuring two flapping wings at bee scale. After all, bees can do a lot with two wings, so why can’t robots? Turns out there are a lot of reasons why little winged robots can’t do what bees do, at least for now—things like yaw control has proved to be somewhat tricky, which is one reason why less explicitly bee-like designs that use four wings instead of two are appealing.  We saw some impressive research at ICRA this year showing that yaw control with two wings is possible, but four wings have additional advantages— namely, more wings means more power for lifting more stuff. And with more lifting power, it’s possible to have a completely self-contained robot insect, even if it’s slightly weird looking. In Nature this week, researchers from Continue reading Solar-Powered RoboBee X-Wing Flies Untethered

Boing Goes the Trampoline Robot

If you can’t afford a fancy quadruped with springy legs, just use a springy floor instead There are a handful of quadrupedal robots out there that are highly dynamic, with the ability to run and jump, but those robots tend to be rather expensive and complicated, requiring powerful actuators and legs with elasticity. Boxing Wang, a Ph.D. student at Zhejiang University in China, contacted us to share a project he’s been working to investigate quadruped jumping with simple, affordable hardware. “The motivation for this project is quite simple,” Boxing says. “I wanted to study quadrupedal jumping control, but I didn’t have custom-made powerful actuators, and I didn’t want to have to design elastic legs. So I decided to use a trampoline to make a normal servo-driven quadruped robot to jump.”

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.