Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive [14/20]

  • Weekly Robotics #26

    1) NASA’s Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to End.
    INFO: After sending over 1000 commands to restore contact with Opportunity the NASA engineers made the last attempt to revive the rover on 12 of February. The final communication from Opportunity was received on 10th of June, before a Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location. Opportunity mission lasted almost 15 years (the mission goal was for it to last 90 days) and traveled 45 km / 28 mi (the planned distance was 1,100 yd / 1,000 m). If you are interested in Visual Inertial Odometry on Opportunity and Spirit rovers then you might like the publication of the week from Weekly Robotics #17. We really liked the xkcd strip on Opportunity.

    2) CARLA Autonomous Driving Challenge.
    INFO: CARLA (WR #8) announced an autonomous driving challenge in which agents will have to drive through predefined routes in various conditions. The challenge has 4 tracks: LiDAR + GPS + cameras, cameras only, HD map + LiDAR + cameras + GPS, scene abstraction (no perception involved).

    3) Can Reaction Wheels Control a Drone?
    INFO: In this YouTube video Tom Stanton discusses angular momentum and reaction wheels and try to control a coaxial drone in pitch and roll axes. We’ve found this 25 minutes video to be very informative and a fun watch.

    4) List of Open Source Real-Time Operating Systems.
    INFO: The above website contains a list of open source Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS). The Licence and platform column can allow to quickly filter the systems based on your requirements.

    5) ROS-Industrial Conference 2018 - Video Sessions.
    ROS Industrial
    INFO: In the above link you can find references to YouTube video playlists with 4 sessions from last year’s ROS-Industrial conference.

    6) Remote Handling at the JET Fusion Experiment.
    INFO: This video shows how maintenance at the JET fusion experiment are performed. During maintenance 2 articulated booms can be deployed in the experiment area. One of the booms contains dexterous manipulator called MASCOT that can be operated using a haptic device.

    7) Publication of the week - Modern Robotics (2017).
    Northwestern University
    INFO: It’s not a kind of Publication you are used to see in Weekly Robotics but we had to include it. Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control is a book by Kevin M. Lynch and Frank C. Park that covers kinematics, dynamics and control of robots (mostly robotic arms but there is a chapter on wheeled robots too). The book is freely available to download at the above link. In the above page you will also find lots of extra content like Link to Coursera classes, YouTube videos covering the lessons and a 100+ pages exercise book with solutions.

    1) Humble Book Bundle: Robotics & IoT.
    Humble Bundle
    INFO: In this Humble Book Bundle you can get up to 25 Packt published books about Robotics and Internet of Things. By purchasing this bundle you can support charities of your choice and Weekly Robotics.

    2) Livox Mid-40 LiDAR Review.
    M.Sadowski Blog
    INFO: In this blog post Mat reviews Livox Mid-40, a 600$ LiDAR with range of up to 230 meters and 38.4° circular field of view. The review covers both LiDAR performance and available ROS nodes.


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    Weekly Robotics
    INFO: If you would like us to include your open position in the hiring section please feel free to send us an e-mail.

    1) PAL Robotics (Barcelona, Spain) - Senior Autonomous Navigation Engineer.
    INFO: PAL Robotics designs, craft and customize humanoid robots.

    2) Sevensense (Zurich, Switzerland) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Sevensense develops technology for autonomous indoors and outdoor navigation.

    3) Ike (San Francisco, CA, US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Ike is building cutting edge automation technology to help improve the trucking industry.

  • Weekly Robotics #25

    1) An Introduction to Cubesats.
    INFO: This short article is a quick and informative introduction to cubesats. We were surprised to learn that there were instances of cubesats used for deep space missions.

    2) FIBERBOTS: Design of a multi-agent, fiber composite digital fabrication system.
    INFO: “The FIBERBOTS are a swarm of robots designed to wind fiberglass filament around themselves to create high-strength tubular structures. These structures can be built in parallel and interwoven to rapidly create architectural structures”. The video contained in the article is well worth the watch.

    3) Four-Legged Walking Robot Is Smaller Than an Ant’s Face.
    INFO: Ryan St. Pierre for University of Maryland designed a quadruped robot that weighs 1 milligram and measures 2.5 mm x 1.6 mm x 0.7 mm. The legs of the robot are controller by external magnetic fields acting on magnets embedded in robot hips. The top speed of the robot is 37.3 mm/s.

    4) Penny-Sized Ionocraft Flies With No Moving Parts.
    INFO: Backin in Weekly Robotics #15 we mentioned a ion drive powered fixed wing aircraft. In the above link a ioncraft developed by UC Berkley researchers is presented. The aircraft measures 2 cm x 2 cm and together with IMU weighs 67 milligrams. To be able to hover the robot requires an input voltage of 2,000 V at 0.35 mA.

    5) Bolt - High Speed Cinebot.
    Mark Roberts motion Control
    INFO: The other day we’ve enjoyed learning about this robot arm cameraman. The website above contains showreels showing the robot in action and you will also find the relevant datasheets in case you are interested in physical characteristics of this arm.

    6) MIT Robot Combines Vision and Touch to Learn the Game of Jenga.
    INFO: MIT Engineers developed a tactile sensing system that enables an ABB IRB 120 robotic arm to engage in a game of Jenga. To determine how to move a block the robot uses both vision methods and force measurements. You can see the robot in action by watching this video.

    7) Publication of the week - How Many Miles of Driving Would It Take to Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicle Reliability (2016)?
    RAND Corporation
    INFO: This paper discusses using test-driving as a safety metric in autonomous vehicles. According to authors to statistically demonstrate reliability the autonomous cars would need to drive between tens of millions to hundreds of billions miles depending on chosen benchmark.


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    INFO: If you would like us to include your open position in the hiring section please feel free to send us an e-mail.

    1) Stanley Robotics (Paris, France) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Stanley Robotics is the company behind the autonomous parking robots that we covered in WeeklyRobotics #24.

    2) Auterion (Zurich, Switzerland / US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Auterion builds the tests, certified, and long-term supported distribution of PX4 for the safe operation of autonomous robots.

    3) Automata (London, UK) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Automata is a startup building small robot arms for manufacturing and logistics.

  • Weekly Robotics #24

    1) Course: Practical Deep Learning for Coders.
    INFO: The course v3 is currently available. It is targeting developers with at least 1 year of programming experience (ideally Python). The course consists of 7 lessons. Each class is around 2 hours long and requires around 10 hours work to complete all the assignments.

    2) Virtual Apollo Guidance Computer.
    INFO: This project is a Virtual Machine that allows emulating the Virtual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC). AGC specification look very interesting: under 4 kB of RAM, 69 kB of ROM. The AGC was capable of performing about 85,000 instructions per second. All at just below 32 kg (70 pounds). If you want to learn more about AGC then this video seems to be a good start.

    3) A Waymo One Rider’s Experiences Highlight Autonomous Rideshare’s Shortcomings.
    INFO: From this article we can learn that left turns and lane merges are difficult to execute for the autonomous cars, especially when safety is your top priority. What we’ve also found interesting in the article is the fact that the safety drivers in Waymo’s cars are making voice logs that are timestamped and can be used for later improvements.

    4) Clearpath Robotics ROS Cheat Sheet.
    Clearpath Robotics
    INFO: If you would like to have some of the useful ROS commands accessible in one place then those cheat sheet by Clearpath Robotics can be a good starting point. The cheat sheets cover Hydro, Indigo and Kinetic ROS releases.

    5) PX4 Roadmap 2019.
    INFO: PX4 is an open source firmware, most popular on Pixhawk autopilots. In this post the development roadmap for 2019 is discussed. Interestingly the plan is to make linux onboard computers first class citizens for PX4. This can be achieved through development of FastRTPS, which will enable native compatibility with ROS2 messaging.

    6) Gatwick Airport Trial for Valet-parking Robots Aimed at Cutting Hassle for Travellers .
    INFO: In August a trial of Valet-parking robots is set to begin at Gatwick Airport in the UK. The robots developed by Stanley Robotics slide underneath the car and gently lifts it up by the tires and is ready to park.

    7) Publication of the week - CERNTAURO: A Modular Architecture for Robotic Inspection and Telemanipulation in Harsh and Semi-Structured Environments (2018).
    INFO: This paper presents developments of robotics framework at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). The control system is layered having layers responsible for communications, application, supervision, control and hardware abstraction, all communicating with each other using inter process communication. The paper also discusses different scenarios how the framework has been used at CERN for maintenance tasks etc.

    1) Humble Book Bundle: Programming Cookbooks by O’Reilly.
    Humble Bundle
    INFO: Do you want to brush up on your programming skills before diving into the practical deep course? Then this bundle and in particular a Python Cookbook might be for you. By purchasing this bundle you can support charities of your choice and Weekly Robotics.


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    1) Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, TX, US) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is one of the largest independent, non-profit, applied R&D organization in the US. The above positions are all related to development of ROS-Industrial.

    2) Greenzie (Atlanta, GA, US) - Robotics Software Developer / Intern.
    INFO: Greenzie’s mission is to free humans from manual labor. We’re starting with the hardest tasks first - highly repetitive outdoor work in the green industry: lawn maintenance, turf mowing, landscaping.

    3) Rogo (West Lafayette, IN, USA) - Lead Robotics Software Developer.
    INFO: Rogo builds and operates autonomous robots to help farmers get more consistent soil samples to ultimately apply their fertilizer more efficiently.

    4) Parkopedia (London, UK) - Robotics Software Engineer.
    INFO: Parkopedia was founded with the mission of being able to answer any parking question, anywhere in the world.

  • Weekly Robotics #23

    1) FetchIt! - The Fetch Mobile Manipulation Challenge.
    INFO: Via linked post: “The competition involves having a Fetch Mobile Manipulator autonomously navigate to stations in a work cell, pick up items, operate basic machinery, place items into kits, and transport the finished kits to a drop-off location. The team that assembles the most kits within 45 min will win a Fetch Mobile Manipulation Research Robot.”

    2) TechCrunch Sessions 2018 - Robotics.
    INFO: This collection contain highlights of TC Sessions: Robotics from 2018. In there you will find sessions with CEO representatives of such comapnies/organizations as Boston Dynamics, UC Berkeley, Nvidia, Fetch Robotics, Agility Robotics, Aurora and SuitX.

    3) ROSflight.
    INFO: ROSflight is an autopilot system designed from ground up to be interfaced with ROS. ROSflight firmware is compatible with STM32F103 and STM32F405 based flight controllers (revo, naze32, flip32) that are meant to be interfaced with an onboard computer for high level control. If you are interested in ROSflight source code then you can find it on GitHub.

    4) Mobile Robot for Aircraft Inspection.
    Luleå University of Technology
    INFO: Researchers at Luleå University of Technology are working on a Vortex Robot that uses air suction (in the video at the bottom article you can see what appears to be a robot with ducted fan embedded in it’s body) to perform inspections on bodies regardless of their curvatures and inclination. The video at the bottom shows the team testing the robot on Boeing 737.

    5) AI City Challenge 2019.
    AI City Challenge
    INFO: AI City Challenge is a competition focusing on AI in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). The challenge consists of 3 tracks: city-scale multi-camera vehicle tracking, city-scale multi-camera vehicle re-identification, traffic anomaly detection, each provided with a datasets. The deadline for final evaluation results is 10th of April 2019.

    6) Air Powered Soft Robotics Gripper.
    INFO: This step by step tutorial explains the process of creating a simple air-powered soft robotics gripper.

    7) Publication of the week - ROS Navigation Tuning Guide (2016).
    INFO: This document is a good practical introduction to the ROS navigation stack. The tutorial covers the concepts of global and local planners and AMCL (Adaptive Monte Carlo Localization). What we like the most about this document is how practical it is about navigation tunning and explaining the most important parameters and how they affect navigation.

    0) Introducing the sponsored section.
    Weekly Robotics
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    0) Would you like to advertise an open position in a robotics related company?
    Weekly Robotics
    INFO: If you would like us to include your open position in the hiring section please feel free to send us an e-mail.

    1) Ocado Group (Hatfield, UK) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Ocado is the world’s largest online only grocer. Ocado Technology is responsible for the design and development of almost all the software that runs our highly automated business. Ocado has open positons for Robotics Research Software Engineer - Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Robotics Research Software Engineer and Robotic Systems Application Engineer.

    2) Smooth Robotics (Odense, Denmark) - Software Developer.
    INFO: Smooth Robotics develops systems for intuitive robot control.

    3) Welbo (Amsterdam, Netherlands) - Social Robots Developer.
    INFO: Welbo creates social robots solutions that welcome visitors and support them in other tasks.

    4) Universal Robots (Various Locations) - Various Positions.
    INFO: Universal Robots develops industrial collaborative robots that automate and streamline repetitive industrial processes.