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 #78

    Issue 78

    One of the newsletters I’ve been subscribed to for a long time is The Prepared. One of the many things I like about that newsletter is that in each issue authors provide some statistics on the links that were most often viewed by the readers. I would like to do this too! The most clicked link last week was the publication of the week: “How do you Architect your Robots? State of the Practice and Guidelines for ROS-based Systems” with 14.2% opens.

    1) Dynamixel Position Feedback Demo.
    YouTube (trossenrobotics)
    INFO: Cool demonstrator of position feedback from Trossen Robotics showing how position feedback from servos in one robot arm can be used to mirror its movement in the second arm. Many thanks to Allan Scherger for sharing this video in ROS Agriculture Slack channel!

    2) 3D Printed Hands Are Giving Syrian Children a Second Chance.
    Waya
    INFO: Here is another story on tech for good: Loai, a boy from Syria, lost his forearm in 2016 but thanks to the company called Smart Hand he was able to receive a 3D printed prosthetic arm. If you know other stories on how robotics or technology are used for good causes please let me know - I love reading about them.

    3) “Sensorized” Skin Helps Soft Robots Find Their Bearings.
    MIT
    INFO: Last week I’ve covered MakeSense from DisneyResearch that embedded strain sensors into soft robots to reconstruct their deformation. The MIT team had taken a different approach in which they applied the strain sensors on the robot body. Which of the two methods do you prefer?

    4) NASA Begins Testing Next Moon Rover.
    IEEE Spectrum
    INFO: NASA is working on a VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) that’s meant to look for water ice on Moon’s south pole. In the video featured in the article you will see engineers performing tests on a simulated lunar regolith.

    5) Pinocchio - A Rigid Body Dynamics Library.
    GitHub
    INFO: Via GitHub readme file: “Pinocchio instantiates the state-of-the-art Rigid Body Algorithms for poly-articulated systems based on revisited Roy Featherstone’s algorithms. Besides, Pinocchio provides the analytical derivatives of the main Rigid-Body Algorithms like the Recursive Newton-Euler Algorithm or the Articulated-Body Algorithm”. As of right now pinocchio is one of the projects featured in my Awesome Weekly Robotics list.

    6) The Robot That Grips without Touching.
    ETH
    INFO: Marcel Schuck from ETH Zurich are developing a manipulator that can pick up and manipulate objects using acoustic levitation.

    7) gazebo_model_destroyer_plugin.
    GitHub
    INFO: This is for those of you working with ROS: thanks to this plugin you can destroy your robots with ROS. This sounds like a tool that can make integration tests slightly more interesting.

    8) Publication of the Week - Gears (2020).
    ciechanow.ski
    INFO: If you are reading this newsletter chances are you already have a good knowledge of mechanics but I would still recommend checking out this blog post by Bartosz Ciechanowski. What I especially like about this piece are the interactive animations and a clear design of the website.

  • Weekly Robotics #77

    Issue 77

    1) John Deere: Farm Software with Ryan Bergman.
    SE Daily
    INFO: In this SE Daily podcast episode Ryan Bergman, a software engineer at John Deere, talks about software for farming equipment and a whole infrastructure involved. This podcast episode is highly software development focused and puts lots of attention on the cloud part of Robotics. Many thanks to Artur for letting me know about this episode!

    2) The Disengagement Myth.
    Medium
    INFO: A very good article by Kyle Vogt, a Co-Founder of Cruise, a self driving company, on disengagements that occur when a user takes over control of an autonomous car. What I found ingenious in the article is reconstructing the events in which a disengagement occured in simulation to see how the car would behave if the driver would not take over control. I’ll be looking forward to reading more about Cruise’s approach to self-driving. Many thanks to Illia for forwarding this article to me!

    3) MakeSense: Automated Sensor Design for Proprioceptive Soft Robots.
    YouTube (DisneyResearchHub)
    INFO: In this video Disney Research proposes a computational method for augmenting soft robots with proprioceptive sensing capabilities drastically reducing the amount of soft strain sensors needed to correctly sense soft robot deformation.

    4) Gundam Robot Repository.
    GitHub
    INFO: Do you remember the Gundam Robot from the previous issue? It looks like the above repository should have everything you need to simulate this robot yourself.

    5) Nuro R2 Autonomous Delivery Vehicle Gets Green Light.
    The Robot Report
    INFO: “The Nuro R2 was granted an exemption by the U.S. Department of Transportation, allowing it to be tested on public roads without certain features of traditional, passenger-carrying vehicles”. Looking at the graphics included in the article this robot has all the sensors - we can find a LiDAR, multiple cameras creating 360 view around the robot, a thermal camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors.

    6) Reconfigurable Robot Can Climb Up Its Own Track.
    IEEE Spectrum
    INFO: This “robot track” is one of the most interesting mechanical concepts I’ve seen in a while. I recommend watching the video presenting the robot in action.

    7) Publication of the Week - How do you Architect your Robots? State of the Practice and Guidelines for ROS-based Systems (2020)(PDF).
    GitHub
    INFO: A very interesting publication for those of us using ROS that was shared by Ivano Malavolta on ROS Discourse. The paper contains some solid advice on developing ROS based systems.

    1) Terabee Launches Its New Teraranger Evo Mini.
    Terabee
    INFO: The smallest and lightest addition to the TeraRanger Evo sensor family provides versatile performance and value for the money! Optimized for indoor distance sensing, Evo Mini offers ranging capabilities from just 3 cm up to 3.3 m! Easily switch from single-pixel and multi-pixel modes to adapt to your sensing needs. Evo Mini features a robust ABS enclosure for increased protection. Also, benefit from Arduino & Raspberry Pi sample codes and free ROS packages to get your robotic projects up and running in no time!

    Careers

    1) Saga Robotics (Lincoln, UK) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Saga Robotics are developing robotic solutions for soft fruit production, and are involved in several exciting projects world wide, including Norway, UK, and USA.

    2) Robust AI (Palo Alto, CA, US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Robust AI is Building the world’s first industrial grade cognitive engine.

  • Weekly Robotics #76

    Issue 76

    This week was full of interesting news related to robotics and with some carryovers from last weeks I was going through 44 resources to select the 7 you can find in this issue. At some point in the future I’ll start a Slack channel where you will be able to learn about the links that ‘didn’t make it’ and discuss some of the links and projects. Until then, enjoy the read!

    1) Arduino Mecanum Wheels Robot.
    YouTube (How To Mechatronics)
    INFO: I never realised how easy it is to create an arduino Mecanum Wheel robot from scratch. Highly recommend this video if you have 15 minutes to spare.

    2) Japan Is Building a Giant Gundam Robot That Can Walk.
    IEEE Spectrum
    INFO: Japan is set on building an 18 meters high 25 tonnes humanoid walking robot. In the article we can see the robot simulated in Gazebo. According to the article the robot will be available to the public by October this year.

    3) Robot Helps 3D Print a Home for Less than $6,000 in Materials.
    The Robot Report
    INFO: Autonomous Robotic Construction System constructed a 1,900 square foot (177 m2) home in 48 hours of print time.

    4) Spy Gorilla Goes Face To Face With Alpha Silverback | BBC Earth.
    YouTube (BBC Earth)
    INFO: If you’ve ever wondered how would gorillas react to an animatronic gorilla then this video will answer some of your questions. During my interview with Prof. Auke Ijspeert we briefly talked about their project with BBC Spy in The Wild where they worked on a robotic crocodile.

    5) Twin Rovers Could Lead Search for Life Supporting Elements.
    ESA
    INFO: ESA had signed a contract for development of a test project to test a tandem of two rovers. One of the rovers called TRACTOR will be agile and capable of high performance locomotion and navigation and will have short-term energy storage. The other rover called WAIN is not as mobile as TRACTOR but will be able to produce or store large amounts of energy, provide communications with earth and do science! Looking forward to seeing this concept progress. This research activity will be led by COMEX.

    6) ‘PigeonBot’ Brings Robots Closer To Birdlike Flight.
    NPR
    INFO: We visit bio-inspired robots once again. The first thing I learned from this article is that birds have fingers. The second one is that feathers have tiny hooks that prevent them from coming apart during turbulent conditions. All these facts were used by the engineers from Stanford University when they developed PigeonBot. If you are looking for more information then ScienceRobotics has a full article on it that includes pictures and videos.

    7) Publication of the Week - MIR-Vehicle: Cost-Effective Research Platform for Autonomous Vehicle Applications (2019).
    arXiv
    INFO: You know these small electric cars for 3-5 year olds that look like real cars? Apparently they can make a great Autonomous Car research platform and they can even run ROS! The platform is quite low cost with the core items costing $619, only a little bit higher than TurtlBbot 2 Burger.

    1) Humble Book Bundle: DIY Electronics 2.0 by Wiley.
    Humble Bundle
    INFO: Explore the world of DIY electronics with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone! Build electronic circuits, microcontrollers, a mini keyboard, and much more with this bundle of ebooks from Wiley. As always with the Humble Bundle links that I feature by purchasing this bundle you can choose to support this newsletter. Many thanks!

    2) Humble Book Bundle: Artificial Intelligence by MIT Press.
    Humble Bundle
    INFO: Get ready to dive into the world of intelligence, computers, systems, and machines with our latest ebook bundle! Pick up titles like Cybernetics: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason, and more. If you decide to purchase this bundle you can choose to support Weekly Robotics and help grow this newsletter, which will be highly appreciated!

    Careers

    1) WeRobotics (Bern, Switzerland) - Software Engineer | Mechanical Engineer.
    INFO: We co-create and facilitate a network of local knowledge hubs in Africa, Asia and Latin America to build on existing expertise in drones, data and AI, the Flying Labs network.

    2) Aeolus Robotics (Various Places) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Founded to bring the first generation of multi-purpose robot assistants into service across the globe, Aeolus Robotics is a global company with offices in Taiwan, Poland, Austria and the USA. Integrating world-class, world-wide AI and Robot Systems genius with Taiwanese manufacturing aptitude, we are breaking new ground in general-purpose commercial-consumer robotics with capabilities in unstructured “human” spaces.

    3) Apple (Santa Clara Valley (Cupertino), CA, US) - Robotics Engineer.
    INFO: In this position you will develop, deploy and scale sophisticated autonomous algorithms, and lead the integration and test of software releases on a large robotics system. You will also review system performance, triage and fix issues, and identify improvements to the current system.

  • Weekly Robotics #75

    Issue 75

    1) Issue No. 48.
    The Orbital Index
    INFO: Our friends at The Orbital Index had prepared a special issue of their newsletter covering climate change. I’ve learned a lot from the linked issue, especially on how space technologies can be used for measuring the effects of planet warming. I also haven’t heard of Project Drawdown before but I like their approach that ranks the problems and offers some solutions. When I set up my business I decided to pledge 1% of my revenue to environmental organizations through 1% For the Planet and I can highly recommend this as one of the things you can do.

    2) Teardown: BilBot Bluetooth Robot.
    Hackaday
    INFO: Speaking of destroying the planet by buying cheap things nobody needs. This post shows a teardown of a $5 two-wheel toy robot has features like voice commands and bluetooth. As you probably expect - you won’t find too much hardware in this robot but it might turn into a nice hacking project.

    3) I2C in a Nutshell.
    Interrupt
    INFO: A very good article on I2C protocol that also contains some useful and practical tips for debugging I2C issues.

    4) Our Top Tips For Conducting Robotics Field Research.
    Wevolver
    INFO: Very solid advice on field testing robots from Timothy Barfoot, an autonomous space robotics researcher and associate professor at the University of Toronto. I’ve never heard of waterproof notebooks before!

    5) Victoria Serrano Helps Panamanian Students Discover STEM Through Lego Robots.
    IEEE Spectrum
    INFO: Continuing on robots for good resources that I started last week here is a story of Victoria Serrano, who launched STEM Beyond the Borders programme in Panama to teach pre University students about STEM subjects.

    6) Team Builds the First Living Robots.
    UVM
    INFO: A team of scientists have repurposed living cells from frog embryos and assembled them into millimeter wide “xenobots”. If this sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi book to you then welcome to the club!

    7) Boston Dynamics Grows Spot Developer Toolkit.
    BostonDynamics
    INFO: BostonDynamics is making their Spot SDK available on GitHub.If you feel like reading some code today then I recommend looking at hello_spot.py that starts up the robot, makes it stand, twist its body, stand a bit taller and take a picture. I’m waiting for a ROS wrapper now!

    1) Humble Book Bundle: Artificial Intelligence by MIT Press.
    Humble Bundle
    INFO: Get ready to dive into the world of intelligence, computers, systems, and machines with our latest ebook bundle! Pick up titles like Cybernetics: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason, and more. If you decide to purchase this bundle you can choose to support Weekly Robotics and help grow this newsletter, which will be highly appreciated!

    2) Hub Drives – the Next Step for Modular Robots.
    maxon
    INFO: Ross Robotics is addressing challenges faced by all developers of electrically-driven vehicles: variable specifications in a single format / ease of repair and maintenance. The Hub Drives effectively ‘black box’ the motorization functionality, all that is required is to plug the drive onto the vehicle and send the Hub Drive very simple commands. The same format Hub Drive can be produced in a wide speed/torque range. Instant, tool-free pluggability makes it possible to swap-out Hub Drives to change the performance of the vehicle, also to swap-out for maintenance and repair.

    Careers

    1) X (Mountain View, CA, US) - Robotics Engineer.
    INFO: X creates radical new technologies to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. We develop uncomfortably ambitious, potentially world-changing new ideas such as self-driving cars, balloon-powered Internet and smart contact lenses. We’re a team of makers, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers and scientists with deep technical expertise who love the challenge of the seemingly impossible. X was formerly known as Google[x] and is part of Alphabet.

    2) Woodside (Perth, Australia) - Robotics, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems.
    INFO: Working within our IAS team, you will help build safe and autonomous mobile robots that are deployed into Woodside’s operating oil and gas assets to perform remote surveillance and manipulation. You will help deliver business results and improvements in health and safety performance, both to the core business and to the lab, by deploying technologies such as robotic perception, manipulation and/or machine learning. Depending on level of experience, some candidates will be able to help grow our team’s capability through coaching and training activities.

    Announcements

    1) RoboCup 2020 Virtual Robot – Call for Participation.
    RoboCup
    INFO: The RoboCup Rescue Simulation League is a socially relevant part of the RoboCup event. Its main purpose is to provide emergency decision support by integration of disaster information, prediction, planning, and human interface. A generic urban disaster simulation environment is constructed on network computers. Heterogeneous intelligent agents such as firefighters, commanders, victims, volunteers, etc. conduct search and rescue activities in this virtual disaster world. Agents can sense their environment and make decisions on the basis of the perceived data. Mission-critical human interfaces support disaster managers, disaster relief brigades, residents, and volunteers to decide their actions to minimize the disaster damage. The pre-registration for the event is open until 22nd of February and the tournament will take place on June 25th-28th in Bordeaux, France.