Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive

In these pages you can find all Weekly Robotics Newsletter issues released so far. This webpage will be always up to date, however if you would like to make sure that you won't miss any future issues then you can subscribe to our newsletter using the form above or you can subscribe via RSS.

  • Weekly Robotics #85

    Issue 85

    There is a high chance you are in isolation/lockdown right now. If you feel talking about robotics can help lift your spirits then feel free to send me a message. The most clicked link last week was the Open Source Turtle Robot instuctable with 16.5% opens.

    1) Robots Learning to Move Like Animals.
    BAIR
    INFO: Researchers at Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Researcher (BAIR) and Google Research had developed a framework that enables legged robots to learn agile skills by imitating animals.

    2) Building My Own 50Ah LiFePO4 Lithium Battery Pack.
    The Life of Kenneth
    INFO: A very nicely written blog article on how to build a battery pack out of 4 LiFePo4 cells and putting them together with a charger in an ammo box.

    3) Results 2020 User Survey.
    ROS Discourse
    INFO: Katherine from Open Source Robotics Foundation shared the results of ROS 2020 user survey. Since I’m actively working on ROS and writing tutorials from time to time I found lots of insightful data in the survey. Hope you will too!

    4) Augean Robotics: Mechanizing Food Production From Farm To Table.
    Robot Rabbi
    INFO: “What on earth is a tractor doing at CES?” - this post by Oliver Mitchell gives a neat overview on robotics in agriculture in the US.

    5) I Am Mesmerized By Our New Robotic Vacuum.
    dev.to
    INFO: A very enjoyable read on a software developer being fascinated by his new low cost robotic vacuum cleaner.

    6) Ford Autonomous Vehicle Dataset.
    Ford
    INFO: Ford has published an autonomous vehicle dataset (for non-commercial use only). If you like laser scanners then you will like this one - each vehicle was equipped with 4 HDL-32E LiDARs. On top of that the dataset contains information IMU, GPS and 7 cameras. The data is provided as ROS bags.

    7) Design and Optimal Control of a Tiltrotor Micro Aerial Vehicle for Efficient Omnidirectional Flight.
    YouTube (aslteam)
    INFO: Normally this video together with this publication would make the “publication of the week”, however because I’m very short on time I didn’t have enough time to fully cover it. From the video and the paper you will learn about the omnidirectional multirotor designed by Researchers at Autonomous System Lab at ETH Zurich.

    1) ArduSimple RTK - ROS Integration.
    msadowski.github.io
    INFO: I got around to testing my u-blox F9P based ArduSimple RTK modules with ROS. In the above blog post I show a minimal integration with ROS that allows to visualize the data without any other hardware then the RTK units.

    Job Seekers

    In the issue #83 I’ve started this section to try to help out those looking for work in the times of pandemic. If you are currently looking for work then feel free to send me your details in the same format as you can see in the entries below. Please note that I will be able to list up to 5 profiles a week here.

    Name: Sagar Eligar
    Location: Boulder, CO, USA. Willing to relocate
    Skills: Python, Linux, MATLAB, C, ROS, GIT, Coppleia Robotics, Control Systems, and Embedded systems
    Profile: I’m a Robotics graduate student working on Mobile Robots, self-balancing robots, and control of robots. Previously I worked on an underwater vehicle AUV
    Social Profiles: LinkedIn
    Email: sagar.eligar@colorado.edu

  • Weekly Robotics #84

    Issue 84

    I’m seeing a reduced rate of robotics news in my feed by about ~60%, which is understandable given the current COVID-19 situation in the world. Luckily I have a backlog of information to share with you, so we should be good for the next 2-3 weeks. Stay Safe! The most clicked last week was the open source ventilator with 8.8% opens.

    1) The End of Starsky Robotics.
    Medium
    INFO: A very insightful article by Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, a CEO of Starsky Robotics, on the difficulties of scaling AI systems, difficulties in raising capital for safety oriented features and eventually having to close the company. I’ve definitely learned something from this article and I hope the whole team moved on and will keep doing great things!

    2) Writing a New Costmap2d Plugin.
    ros-planning
    INFO: In the last issue we’ve learned about Navigation2 for ROS2 through the paper featured in the publication of the week section. Extending upon that this tutorial shows how to implement a custom costmap plugin for this navigation framework.

    3) Open Source Turtle Robot (OSTR).
    Instructables
    INFO: This instructable contains instructions on creating a turtlebot with a marker holder (did you ever play with logo. This project is the most thorough instructable I’ve ever seen. I was surprised that it even covered odometry calibration.

    4) RB-0.
    GitHub
    INFO: While we are on the topic of DIY 3D printed robots: RB-0 is a hobby-sized rover using the same method of suspension as NASA rovers. The brains of this rover is a Jetson Nano and in the repository you will find some ipython notebooks with some additional instructions and source code.

    5) Ultra-Precise, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hand for Amputees via RPNI Neural Interface.
    YouTube (University of Michigan Engineering)
    INFO: Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interface (RPNI) is a small graft of muscle surgically attached to the end of severed nerves in an amputee’s arm in order to amplify the readable signal. I have to say that the results shown in the video seem very promising!

    6) A3 Special Report: How Robots and Automation are Fighting Covid-19.
    ria
    INFO: In this report Keith Shaw showcases some robotics companies that are aiding in the fight with COVID-19. If you know of anything happening in this space robotics wise that is worth highlighting feel free to let me know!

    7) First look under Thwaites Glacier and Kamb Ice Stream.
    Georgia Tech
    INFO: “An international team including scientists from Georgia Tech captured new images and first-of-its-kind data from deep beneath an Antarctic glacier, which will help scientists to better understand the impact of one of Antarctica’s fastest changing regions and its impact on future sea level rise”. In this mission the team was using ICEFIN, a 130 kg submarine capable of getting to a depth of 1 km and covering a range of 3.5 km.

    Job Seekers

    Last week I’ve started this job seekers section for a limited period of time. If you are a roboticist looking for work in the pandemic feel free to send me your details in the same format as you can see in the entries below. Please note that I will be able to list up to 5 profiles a week in this section.

    Name: Khaled Hammad Mohamed
    Location: Cairo, Egypt. Willing to Relocate
    Skills: Python, C++, ROS , KRL, URDF, Robotics, Autonomous Systems, AGV
    Profile: I am a Robotics Engineer who is A multidisciplinary engineer with expertise in designing and building intelligent robotic systems. knowledge in ROS, SLAM and Embedded system Design, Looking for a company which is interested in developing Robotics solutions or Autonomous Systems
    Social Profiles: LinkedIn
    Email: khaledgabr77@gmail.com


    Name: Andres Torres Garcia
    Location: Merced, CA, USA. Willing to relocate
    Skills: Python, Linux, MATLAB, C/C++11, ROS, GIT, Embedded Systems
    Profile: I’m a Roboticist working on Mobile Robots, Localization and Robot Motion Planning. Currently working on an Autonomous Ground Vehicle(AGV) for Agriculture. Also, contributing to an open-source AGV for agriculture named Gribot
    Social Profiles: LinkedIn
    Email: andrestoga@gmail.com


    Name: Ignat Georgiev
    Location: Edinburgh, UK. Willing to relocate
    Skills: motion control, machine learning, C/C++, ROS, Python, CUDA, PyTorch, Tensorflow, git, Linux, robotics simulators
    Profile: I am an enthusiastic and hard-working student set to graduate from my Master’s this summer. I am interested in the intersection between autonomous robots and AI which led me to establish a student team at my university which is building an autonomous racecar. From that I have gained practical experience in object detection, localisation, SLAM, path planning and motion control
    Social Profiles: LinkedIn, Website
    Email: ignat.m.georgiev@gmail.com

    Announcements

    1) Join the AI-ROBOTICS vs COVID-19 initiative of the European AI Alliance.
    EU
    INFO: The European Commission launches an initiative to collect ideas about deployable Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics solutions as well as information on other initiatives that could help face the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

  • Weekly Robotics #83

    Issue 83

    Two of the WR readers had mentioned the Open Source Ventilator Project - a device that might come useful for COVID-19 patients that are needing intensive care, especially if we run out of medically certified devices. I think the problem is incredibly difficult, therefore if you have experience in working on medical devices I’m sure your help would be appreciated. If you would like to get involved I think this Hackaday post might be a good entry for a discussion with other DIYers.

    On a related note the virus is causing some companies to close. If you find yourself looking for work because of the virus, write me an e-mail. For the next couple of weeks I’ll be hosting a Job Seekers section - a place for you to share your profile and hopefully help you find the next job. The most clicked last week was the Open TOF LiDAR with 12.4% opens.

    1) This Drone Can Play Dodgeball – And Win.
    UZH
    INFO: The Researchers from the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich keep improving their dynamic obstacle avoidance using event cameras. This work looks like a follow up from the work I featured in the issue #39 titled Event Camera Helps Drone Dodge Thrown Objects.

    2) Drone Obstacle Avoidance in 2003: 264 Pixels and 8-Bit Processors.
    DIY Drones
    INFO: Since we are on the topic of obstacle avoidance: here is an interesting write up on implementing obstacle avoidance in 2003 by Geoffrey L. Barrows.

    3) LIBRE-dataset.
    Nagoya University
    INFO: Researchers at Nagoya University had created a dataset comparing 12 multi-channel LiDARS from Velodyne, Hesai, Ouster, RoboSense and LeiShen across various scenarios (static, moving vehicle) and conditions (fog, rain, strong light). The dataset also analyses the interference when running multiple LiDARS at the same time. For more information about this dataset you can see this publication.

    4) Robotics Expert Breaks Down Robot Scenes From Film & TV.
    YouTube (Wired)
    INFO: In this video Chris Atkeson, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, breaks down clips from movies and TV about AI and Robotics. Although you might know most of these things already I find this video to be a good watch, I especially liked the Chernobyl robot and radiation impact that you can see towards the end of the video.

    5) rex-gym.
    GitHub
    INFO: This repository contains OpenAI Gym environments for SpotMicro, an open source quadruped robot that was first published on ThingiVerse and then continued development was picked up by other developers and is hosted on this website.

    6) Autonomous Solar Powered Rover.
    YouTube (rctestflight)
    INFO: This is the episode 1 of the vlog on building the solar powered rover. The rover autopilot stack used in this project is ArduRover.

    7) Publication of the Week - The Marathon 2: A Navigation System (2020).
    arXiv
    INFO: This paper presents Navigation2, a ROS2 library for, you’ve guessed it, navigation! Navigation2 is built upon BehaviorTree.CPP making it very flexible. Since behavior trees are defined in xml you can easily change the behaviour at run time. I’m really excited to see how this this software stack will evolve, especially that I’ll be using it a lot

    1) SwitchBlox - The Open Source 5-Port Ethernet Switch for Robots and Drones.
    BotBlox
    INFO: SwitchBlox is a small, open source Ethernet switch with five 100/100M ports designed for size constrained and tough environments. With a size of 44.5mm (1.75 inches) by 44.5mm (1.75 inches), SwitchBlox is the smallest network switch in the world, making it perfect for robots, drones or any space limited network application.

    2) Humble Book Bundle: Coding Starter Kit by No Starch Press.
    Humble Bundle
    INFO: Ready, set, code! Designed for kids, this bundle of ebooks is the perfect first step for anyone ready to jump into the world of coding! As usual with Humble Bundles featured in this newsletter you can choose to support Weekly Robotics at checkout.

    Job Seekers

    Name: Shantanu Wadnerkar
    Location: Davis, CA, USA. Willing to relocate within USA
    Skills: Python, Linux, MATLAB/Simulink, C++, ROS, numpy, matplotlib, openai-gym
    Profile: I’m a Robotics Engineer working with a myriad of sensors both in simulation and hands-on. Currently working on Baxter research robotic arm with Intel 3D camera. Also, contributing to an open-source self-driving vehicle simulator
    Social Profiles: LinkedIn
    Email: smwadnerkar5@gmail.com


    Name: Gasser Abdelnasser Ahmed
    Location: Cairo, Egypt. Willing to Relocate
    Skills: SolidWorks, Matlab, Simulink, Python, C, ROS ,Control, Robotics, Autonomous Systems
    Profile: I am a Robotics Engineer who is obsessed with Autonomous Systems, Robotics and Control,Looking for a company which is interested in developing Robotics solutions or Autonomous Systems
    Social Profiles: LinkedIn
    Email: gasser_nasser@yahoo.com

  • Weekly Robotics #82

    Issue 82

    Last week I spent 30 minutes watching PaskMakes create a ‘bladeless fan’ from scrap wood. I don’t know what it is about woodworking videos but I find them very satisfying to watch lately. The most clicked link last week was the RDBOX repository with 15.9% opens.

    1) Swarm of Robots Forms Complex Shapes Without Centralized Control.
    IEEE Spectrum
    INFO: Last week I’ve posted a video of these swarm robots in action. If you would like to learn more about them then this article might be a good start!

    2) OpenTOFLidar.
    GitHub
    INFO: This GitHub project contains information about an open source LiDAR that costs around ~114$ in parts to make. According to the information in the repository the scan rate of this sensor is around 15Hz, with a maximum distance of 25m and a resolution of ~1%. For more information about this project you can see this Google translated article or this YouTube video.

    3) Socially Assistive Robot Helps Children with Autism Learn.
    USC Viterbi
    INFO: In this study children on an autism spectrum were given kiwi - a socially assistive robot that can study the child’s interest in completing a task. In this study the Researchers have used reinforced learning and tracked head pose, eye gaze, audio pitch and frequency and performance on the task. You can see the video about the study on YouTube.

    4) 207: I Love My Robot Monkey Head (Repeat).
    Embedded.fm
    INFO: Speaking of social robots - in this episode of Embedded.fm the hosts interview Ayanna Howard, a roboticist and the School Chair for Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. I found the episode very insightful on robot kinematics, Robot Operating System (ROS), uncanny robots, human trust and safety and many other topics.

    5) interbotix_puppet_control.
    GitHub
    INFO: In a 78th issue I’ve featured Dynamixel Position Feedback Demo thanks to Allan. The above repository contains a ROS node that should allow you to pull off something similar with Interbotix robot arms.

    6) Google Summer of Code.
    Google
    INFO: Since last year I’ve shared information about GSoC I’ve felt obliged to report on the 2020 edition too. This year students can work on the following robotics and space related projects: AerospaceResearch.net, ArduPilot, JdeRobot, Libre Space Foundation, MoveIt, Open Source Robotics Foundation, OpenCV, Point Cloud Library, RoboComp. You can start applying to these projects starting from today!

    7) Publication of the Week - BADGR: An Autonomous Self-Supervised Learning-Based Navigation System (2020).
    arXiv
    INFO: BADGR (Berkeley AutonomousDriving Ground Robot) “is an end-to-end learning-based mobile robot navigation system that can be trained with self-supervised off-policy data gathered in real-world environments, without any simulation or human supervision”. The mobile platform used for this research is a Clearpath Jackal extended with 2 170 deg FoV RGB cameras, a 2D LiDAR and a compass. Using the trained model BADGR can predict the probability of the road bumpiness and collisions based on the information from the cameras. For more information about the project check out BADGR website.

    Careers

    1) ANYbotics (Zurich, Switzerland) - VP Software Engineering.
    INFO: ANYbotics provides solutions for a new level of mobility and interaction capabilities for robots to step out of the factory floors. We develop the market for highly mobile legged robots operating in challenging environments.

    2) Kobi (Leuven, Belgium) - Various Positions.
    INFO: With our scalable AI robotics platform, we can convert almost any machine into an autonomous device!