Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive [10/20]

  • Weekly Robotics #42

    HeaderImage

    Two weeks ago we promised that the issue 42 will come with some answers to a secretive sub-project we’ve been working on. The short story is that we are becoming custodians of Robotics content. For a longer version scroll down to the announcement section (or if you really can’t wait: go directly to our curated database).

    1) Collinear Mecanum Drive ICRA 2019.
    YouTube
    INFO: This video shows a balancing robot utilizing mecanum wheels that allow it to move sideways. Combining sideways movement with a forward motion produces quite interesting results.

    2) Dashing Diademata Delivers Second Generation ROS.
    Hackaday
    INFO: ROS 2 Dashing Diamenta, has been released. We found the above article to be a great introduction to this long term release (with support guaranteed for the next 2 years). For more information you can head to ROS discourse, where you can find some demonstrators posted in the thread.

    3) Open Robotics Meets the Open Road - DECODED Show S3E1.
    YouTube
    INFO: In this episode of The Decoded Show the authors meet Matt Robinson from SwRI to talk about ROS Industrial and showcase some examples utilizing ROS. At BMW we can learn how ROS is used to optimize logistics and some insights on plan alpha - a testing ground for robots that are meant to operate in a manufacturing plant.

    4) videoflow.
    GitHub
    INFO: Videoflow is an open source Python framework that facilitates quick development of complex video analysis applications. You can find a result of an object detection used with this framework in this YouTube video. Here you can find project documentation.

    5) TU Delft Scientists Create World’s Smallest Autonomous Racing Drone.
    Innovation Origins
    INFO: The scientists from MAVLab (last time we’ve featured their work was back in issue #6) created a 72 gram (2.5 oz) drone capable of flying autonomously on a track using an onboard camera for localization. The drone is capable of flying the track with an average speed of 2 m/s.

    6) Tiny Robots Carry Stem Cells Through a Mouse.
    IEEE
    INFO: Scientists from DGIST-ETH Microrobotics Research Center created a magnetically-actuated robot that successfully carried stem cells through a live mouse. As it is noted in the article a huge challenge for working with such robots in vivo is observing the position of the robot while performing the procedure.

    7) Publication of the Week - University Rover Challenge: Tutorials and Team Survey (2018).
    GitHub
    INFO: This repository contains loads of information from Team R3 of Ryerson University in Toronto that took part in the University Rover Challenge in 2017. In the linked repository you will also find a chapter from the book Robot Operating System (ROS): The Complete Reference (Volume 3), Studies in Computational Intelligence that was prepared by the members of the team. From the published chapter we can learn about the system design, comparison of solutions chosen by various teams. The chapter also includes plenty of tutorials on various aspects of robot development with ROS.

    8) Orbital Index Newsletter.
    Orbital Index
    INFO: Orbital Index is a newsletter with curated links related to space technologies. We’ve been subscribed to Orbital Index for two months now and we are thoroughly enjoying it and we are sure that the readers who are also into space technology will love it too!

    Careers

    1) Liquid Robotics (Sunnyvale, CA, US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Liquid Robotics creates autonomous wave-powered ocean vehicles- remote sensor platforms that are used in oceanography, oil and gas, defense and communications. The platform doesn’t require fuel for propulsion, and can operate for up to a year in the ocean which creates unique engineering challenges for durability, fault tolerance and remote sensing.

    2) BotsAndUs (London, UK) - Robotics Quality Assurance Engineer.
    INFO: BotsAndUs are building a social robotics platform to help organisations interact with and learn about their customers and guests. We have developed our own platform to support this goal, and we’re looking for a new team member who can help us scale up our technical expertise and development resources.

    3) Sevendof (Trondheim, Norway) - Embedded Software Engineer.
    INFO: Sevendof is a startup in Trondheim focused on building the drone infrastructure of the future. We seek to make drones available as a service to businesses for purposes such as inspection, mapping, and search and rescue. Sevendof will operate a network of long-range drones which are stationed in the field, enabling missions to be carried out automatically.

    Announcements

    1) Awesome Weekly Robotics.
    Weekly Robotics
    INFO: An awesome list is a list of awesome things curated by the community and are usually hosted on GitHub. We are in very early stages of working on this sub-project but all the links related to the chosen categories should already be included in the existing version. You can view the list by clicking on the link above or view it directly on GitHub. If you would like to contribute to it then feel free to send us an e-mail or create a pull request.

    2) CDAO Executive Summit 2019.
    Opal Group
    INFO: The CDAO Executive Summit taking place in Atlanta, GA, September 22 - 24, 2019 is a gathering of C-Suite Executives and Senior Decision Makers from Fortune 1000 and leading enterprise organizations. Our intimate, invitation-only event creates new and meaningful business relationships with true peers. We believe in creating a memorable, collaborative and effective experiences for Chief Data Officers, Chief Analytics Officers, and other top executives in data, analytics, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, IT and data governance. Join us! Interested in attending, speaking or sponsoring? Contact Bobby Swartout at (212) 532-9898 ext 248 or email info@opalgroup.net.

    3) Deep Reinforcement Learning Summit, San Francisco.
    RE•WORK
    INFO: Weekly Robotics is proud to partner with RE•WORK summits. From Robotics to Reinforcement Learning, they have it covered. As a WR reader, you can not get up to 40% off summit passes using the discount code ‘WEEKLYROBOTICS’. See the full list of summits here.

  • Weekly Robotics #41

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    1) STMBL - an Open Source Servo Drive.
    GitHub
    INFO: Via Readme: STMBL is an open source servo drive designed for Retrofitting CNC machines and Robots. It supports Industrial AC and DC servos with up to 320V and 2kW. You can see some videos of machines using STMBL on author’s YouTube channel.

    2) The History of Pixhawk.
    Auterion
    INFO: In this blog post Lorenz Meier from Auterion shares the story on how Pixhawk, an open source autopilot came to be and started to be widely adopted by the drone community.

    3) Engineering for the Long Haul, the NASA Way.
    Hackaday
    INFO: In this Hackaday post Dan Maloney how NASA is learning from the mistakes, hardware failures and processes (using non-SI units in ground-based software anyone?). We liked that the article features lots of examples on engineering failures and lessons learned. Another important aspect covered is the reasoning behind using computer chips from 1988 in the projects that were deployed even in 2006.

    4) First All-Student Rocket to Reach Space | Traveler IV Launch.
    YouTube
    INFO: On the 21st of April students from USC Propulsion Lab launched a rocket that reached an apogee of 339,800 ft (104 km). We found the above video to be very inspiring and we highly recommend watching it if you have 5 minutes to spare.

    5) Ultrafast Motion-Planning Chip Could Make Autonomous Cars Safer.
    IEEE
    INFO: This article introduces the usage of motion planning using Realtime Robotics solutions. Thanks to FPGA chips and lattice motion planning the company can execute motion planning a rate of 1,000 Hz. In the video featured in the article you will see the presentation of the technology applied in simulation, we will watch the progress of Realtime Robotics and as soon as we see the technology proved on a physical self-driving car we will let you know.

    6) The Artificial Muscles that Will Power Robots of the Future.
    YouTube
    INFO: In this TED talk Christoph Keplinger talks about artificial muscles (did you know that likely the first publication on artificial muscle was published in 1880) and shows HASEL (Hydraulically Amplified Self-healing ELectrostatic) actuators that use electricity applied to a conductor to displace insulating liquid.

    7) Publication of the Week - Batiprint3D Project Report (2017)(PDF).
    3dprintetbyggeri.dk
    INFO: This project report contains information on Batiprint3D, a project to create 3D printed house in Nantes, France. Here you can find a BBC article on the topic after the house was constructed. The system is composed of two robots; an articulated robot arm and a guided vehicle. The core of the process developed by Batiprint3D is using polyurethane foam to create a cast for the walls. After the cast is made it is filled with concrete 30 cm (1 foot) at a time. According to the report the robot is using a laser beacon and photosensors for robot localization, achieving 1 mm accuracy in position.

    Careers

    1) TuSimple (San Diego, CA / Tucson, AZ, US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: TuSimple’s team has assembled the top talent in the industry to deliver the world’s first self-driving truck to market. We covered self-driving trials by TuSimple in Weekly Robotics #40.

    2) Tecnalia (San Sebastian, Spain) - Research Engineer in Vision for Robotics.
    INFO: Tecnalia’s activity is Applied research to solve challenges from our industrial clients, as well as maturing technologies to anticipe the industrial need.

    3) Blue Ocean Robotics (Barcelona, Spain) - Senior Robotics Developer.
    INFO: Blue Ocean Robotics develops, produces and sells professional service robots in healthcare, hospitality, construction, agriculture and other global markets.

  • Weekly Robotics #40

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    Welcome to Weekly Robotics Newsletter #40 and thank you for being with us! We are striving for constant improvement and your feedback is highly appreciated! For any suggestions you can send us an e-mail. We are currently working really hard to bring to you a special sub projects that will premiere with issue #42, where all your questions will be answered. In other news: have you seen this dog-off at ICRA 2019?

    1) It’s Not a Bird! But it’s Flying!
    YouTube
    INFO: This YouTube video by CyberCouch shows the process of creating an Ornithopter, a flapping wing flying structure. The video goes through the basics required for a design, flapping mechanisms, motor and component selection and transmission systems. This video linked above ends with the working mechanism. The second episode goes over the design of fuselage, wings and tail. You can find more information on the project and build instructions on instructables.com.

    2) Self-driving trucks begin mail delivery test for U.S. Postal Service.
    Reuters
    INFO: U.S. Postal Service together with a startup TuSimple started a two week test of self-driving trucks that will be used for long distance transport. During the pilot program the trucks are planned to travel 3,380 km (2,100 mi) - 5 round trips between Phoenix and Dallas. Each truck will have a safety driver behind the wheel and an engineer on a passenger seat. For some more insights on TuSimple operations you can check out this article from Tucson Weekly.

    3) LineRanger: A Revolution in Transmission Line Robotics.
    YouTube
    INFO: Big thanks to Ludovic for pointing out this project by Hydro-Québec, we’ve found it to be quite inspiring! This transmission line robot is capable of attaching to power lines and traverse them (including the line crossings). Currently the robot needs to be deployed on the power lines using human assistance.

    4) ROS Indigo Igloo Officially EOL.
    discourse.ros.org
    INFO: Indigo Igloo, the first LTS (Long Term Support) distribution,officially reached the end of life (EOL). The distribution was released in July 2014. There were 475 people that contributed to the distribution, averaging 16 commits per author. The remaining LTS ROS distributions are Kinetic (EOL April 2021) and Melodic (EOL May 2021).

    5) How Zipline Became a $1.2 Billion Drone Company.
    Drone Life
    INFO: On the 17th of May Zipline, a drone delivery service company, announced $190M in new financing, bringing the total valuation to $1.2 Billion. Zipline drones can carry 1.75 kg (3.86 lbs) of cargo, cruise at 110 km/h (68 mph / 60 knots) and can cover a round trip range of 160 km (100 mi). Since launching in Rwanda in 2016 Zipline performed over 14,000 deliveries. If you would like to know more about how Zipline operates in Rwanda we found this video from RealEngineering very informative.

    6) UC Berkeley’s “Hyper-Aggressive Pogo-Stick” Robot Now Works Outdoors.
    IEEE
    INFO: We mentioned Salto 1-P back in Weekly Robotics #9. The new update to the robot removes the need for the motion capture system and can be controlled using a joystick. Currently the system uses dead reckoning for position estimation.

    7) Publication of the Week - Behavior Trees in Robotics and AI: An Introduction (2018).
    arXiv
    INFO: Behaviour Trees Behaviour can serve as an alternative to Finite State Machine and be used for complex task planning in Robotics. The above contains a pre-print version of the CRC Press Book. If you would like to start implementing BehaviourTrees in your systems then you might want to take a look at BehaviourTree.CPP (featured in Weekly Robotics #17).

    1) YDLIDAR X2 - ROS review and Cartographer setup.
    msadowski.github.io
    INFO: In this blog post Mat, the author of Weekly Robotics, reviews YDLIDAR X2 - an $89 360 degree LiDAR with 7Hz update rate. The post shows the LiDAR working with Cartographer and points to the repository with full implementation of Mat’s solution.

    Careers

    1) Franka Emika (Munich, Germany) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Franka Emika is a dynamic company that develops robotics technology for everyone, with a goal to overcome one of the biggest challenges of the modern society, relieving an entire generation of tedious, potentially dangerous, vastly time-consuming, and monotonous labor.

    2) National Robotics Engineering Center (Pittsburgh, PA, US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: NREC develops and matures robotics technologies and solutions from concept to commercialization. Our unique expertise places us at the forefront of unmanned ground vehicle design, autonomy, sensing and perception, machine learning, machine vision, operator assistance, 3D mapping and position estimation.

  • Weekly Robotics #39

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    1) Stanford Engineers Design a Robotic Gripper for Cleaning Up Space Debris (2017).
    YouTube
    INFO: This YouTube video shows a gecko inspired gripper created by Stanford researchers that in the future could be used for object manipulation in space and cleaning space debris.

    2) A Machine Learning Course with Python.
    GitHub
    INFO: The link above is a short course on Machine Learning by Machine Learning Mindset. The course contains both tutorial text and Python source code.

    3) The Rise of ROS.
    AP News
    INFO: According to ABI Research nearly 55% of total commercial robots shipped in 2024, over 915,000 units, will have at least one ROS package installed.

    4) Event Camera Helps Drone Dodge Thrown Objects.
    IEEE
    INFO: Researchers from Robotics and Perception Group presented dynamic obstacle avoidance on a drone allowing it to dodge a ball thrown at it at 10m/s. The drone showcased in the article uses an event camera for localization and obstacle detection and in some experiments a motion capture system is used for getting ground truth information for both a drone and the ball.

    5) This Two-Wheeled RC Car Is Rather Quick.
    Hackaday
    INFO: Compared to Bobble-Bot that we covered in the previous issue this self-balancing platform is a simpler build when it comes to software but we still found it quite interesting and entertaining to watch. The platform is based on the oDrive motor controller, a Teensy 3.6 micro computer and MPU6050 IMU. According to the captions in the attached video the platform is capable of driving at 40 MPH (64 km/h).

    6) Underground Robots: How Robotics Is Changing the Mining Industry.
    EOS
    INFO: This article shows couple of use cases how robotics can be used in the mining industry for searching for rare metals and free humans from needing to be exposed to danger in mines. Part of the article focuses on the UX-1 robot developed as a part of the UNEXMiN project. UX-1 is an underwater robot with expected weight of 112 kg (247 lbs) and 0.6 m (2 ft) diameter and capable of operating at a maximum depth of 500 m.

    7) Publication of the Week - Astrobee Robot Software: Enabling Mobile Autonomy on the ISS (PDF) (2018).
    NASA
    INFO: We mentioned Astrobee back in Weekly Robotics #35. The above paper presents the software architecture of Astrobee. Each Astrobee runs on 3 interconnected ARM processors communicating over ethernet and interfacing with 7 microcontrollers, 6 cameras, propulsion system etc. The system is composed of about 46 ROS nodelets. The low and medium level processors run Ubuntu 16.04, while the high level one runs Android (Nougat 7.1) that is used for guest science applications developed by research partners. The system does not require real-time kernel extensions due to the control loop running at low speed of 62.5Hz. The system has 3 sources of localization depending on the localization mode: 120° camera, AR markers for docking or depth camera for perching. Apart from the publication we found this talk by Andrew Symington to be a good summary of the software stack.

    1) Humble Book Bundle: Artificial Intelligence & Deep Learning by Packt.
    HumbleBundle
    INFO: Pay what you want for those 25 books on AI & Deep Learning. By using the above link you can choose to support WeeklyRobotics and help us grow.

    Careers

    1) Aeolus Robotics (Various Countries and Remote) - 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.

    2) Magazino (Munich, Germany) - Robot QA Engineer.
    INFO: Magazino develops and builds intelligent, mobile robots for intralogistics.

    3) Cobalt Robotics (San Mateo, CA, US) - Robotics Software Engineer.
    INFO: Cobalt builds autonomous security robots that keep buildings safe by combining the reliability of machines and the friendly face of human-in-the-loop “Robot Specialists.”

    Announcements

    1) UNEXMiN Final Conference - 26 September 2019.
    UNEXMiN
    INFO: We mentioned UNEXMiN and UX-1 robot in 6th entry of this newsletter. On 26th of September this year the project results will be presented in Belgium and you can attend the event free of charge.

    2) AI in Finance Summit, New York.
    RE•WORK
    INFO: Discover advances in AI & machine learning tools and techniques from the world’s leading innovators across industry, research and the financial sector. As a media partner of the summit, Weekly Robotics readers can now get up to 40% off summit passes using discount code WR20. See the full agenda, list of speakers and registration details here. Summit passes to the Deep Learning Summit will also grant you access to the AI Assistant Summit and AI in Retail and Advertising Summit.

    3) Deep Learning Summit, Europe.
    RE•WORK
    INFO: Bridging the gap between the latest technological research advancements and real-world applications in business and society. Weekly Robotics readers can now get up to 40% off summit passes using discount code WR20. See the full agenda, list of speakers and registration details here. Summit passes to the Deep Learning Summit will also grant you access to the AI Assistant Summit and AI in Retail and Advertising Summit.