Friday, January 29, 2016

Robotics Weekly #8

Robotics Weekly
Issue #8
Featured article:
  • Throwing and catching an inverted pendulum - What can come from juggling skills combined with inverted pendulum balancing skills? It is not as surprise that it will be throwing and catching inverted pendulum ;). But surprising is that it is done by two autonomous flying drones. What else can be achieved with such precision and agility?
Articles and videos:
  • Military robots and the future of war - I am pacifist so I'm trying to rather avoid topics related to using robots as a weapon. But I think that everyone should watch this TED video. Although it is quite old, P.W. Singer did complete summary of current state of robotics in war zones and possible future implications of using them.
  • Ehang 184 - Forget about autonomous cars. The future is in hands of human transporting autonomous flying metropolitan quadrotors. Well, at least on visualizations from Ehang company. I wonder if they already sold at least one of those quadrotors on free market.
  • Is the Future of Drones Dastardly or Daring? - Since we are at flying stuff topic, check this video. David Roberts, chairman of global drone services company, HaloDrop tries to answer few questions asked by Singularity University fans on Twitter. This short Q&A session just scratch the surface of whole topic, but it might give you few hints about current state of drones industry and about direction it might go in next couple of years.
  • Modular Snake Robots - Another example of neat robot and his movement inspired directly by nature. What is most interesting here, is that this robot actually uses few independent type of movements, which you can check on trailer. At first view it may not look impressive, but if you compare type of terrains and objects on which it can move it seems that this may be good way of designing future robots.
  • How robots can learn from babies - If you have a child or you had experience with toddlers, you probably had this moment (at least I had) when you observed toddler doing something that no one taught him/her. At some point you found that your approach to teach everything works on some level, but also that toddler learns other things by mimics your moves and tries to use things you are using, without any encourage, training and explanation of how to use it. In other words, it seems that robots can be taught to do something without explicit programming, if they are programmed to behave like toddler which explores word by himself. Are we at the edge of need of creating education materials for robots?
  • EZWheel Omniwheel - It seems that typical rolling movement also could be easily upgraded to be more precise and agile. On this (sorry for age of this link) video you can see that this seemingly clumsy platform can be easily converted to agile platform, just by changing its wheels. I'm not sure if anyone used it in bigger projects, so if you find something related to it, please give me a ping ;).
  • Want to buy a giant, rideable robot? Amazon Japan will sell you one - In previous issue of RW I linked to article about Amazon using 30K of robots as a backbone of some magazines. Amazon also sells many items from robotics assortment. But probably no one expected that they will offer Kuratas. OK, I'm not familiar with Japanese language, so this might be a fake, but if you check actual link to that offer it looks pretty valid. I promise to check it when I will have 1M USD spare money.
  • DASH: A Dynamic 16g Hexapedal Robot - Another idea copied from nature. This time impressing factor is based on its resiliency and simplicity. Well, that impression might be hard to occur based on scientific publication, so here is video about it. Will we see paparazzi using such simple constructs as mounts for spy cameras?
  • CHiP: The World's First Lovable Robot Dog - If you watched Blade Runner, you can probably recall fact, that in world presented in that movie, the easy and cheap way to get a pet was to buy a robot which was carefully manufactured to look and behave as a real animal. Fortunately, there is still various animal life around us, and we have to pay extra to have robot which is designed to behave like a pet. And one of most promising approach to this concept is CHiP. It still needs some tuning, but its hard to find something comparable to it at this moment.
Book of the week:
  • Robot Building for Beginners, 2nd Edition (Technology in Action) - If you are thinking about building a robot, and you believe that you are above level of Lego robots, but still below 3D seeing, gigabytes of data processing and multi degrees of freedom moving parts, this book might be perfect for you. You will be taught how to complete your tool set and components and then how to use them to build robot you designed. This book looks like serious enough to actually support you in constructing robots but is also explanatory enough so you will not have to climb you learning cliff alone.    
  • Introduction to Robotics - Another introductory course about robotics. This time it is designed and presented by Professor Oussama Khatib from Stanford University. Topics include spatial descriptions, forward kinematics, inverse kinematics, jacobians, dynamics, motion planning and trajectory generation, position and force control, and manipulator design.
  • Senior Robotics Scientist @ iRobot Corporation - Everyone of us probably heard of iRobot company mainly because of their flag product Roomba. They are hiring to design and improve vision algorithms for their robots. Again, job offer related to cleaning industry. Maybe this is our future? Location: Bedford, USA. Tags: mathematics, slam, c, c++.
  • Almost - In past issue of Robotics Weekly I mentioned finalist of DRC 2015. You should also check of other robot which "almost" made it.
MichaƂ Neonek, MrValgad, Tompul
Do you have link to cool news, article, tutorial or video and want to share with other robot fans? Send it to me and if meet quality standards I will include it in next issue of Robotics Weekly.

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