Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive [4/23]
The first episode of our podcast project is out! In the first episode I interview Auke Ijspeert, a professor at EPFL and the head of Biorobotics Laboratory. This time we learn about projects done by Auke's laboratory, various aspects of locomotion in animals and try to take a peek at the future of bio robotics.
As I mentioned in the previous issue for the next couple of weeks the newsletter will go out on Monday mornings CET. Last week we had CES exhibition happen in Las Vegas. In this issue I will highlight the projects I read about that caught my attention and save you some time by providing you some links to the most interesting CES innovation awards related to robotics.
1) CES Innovation Awards. INFO: I looked through all the CES Innovation Awards related to Robotics and autonomous tech and in this entry I will list all of these that caught my attention. In Robotics category we can find PingPong Robot - a modular robotic platform based on small building blocks. You can see some robots built from these blocks in this YouTube video. A Lovot is a companion robot that some people see as robots they could emotionally attach to. You can find a short hands-on by Jessica Conditt from Engadget in this video. The final entry from the Robotics category that I’ve selected is GANKER EX Battle Robot and a video showing two of these robots fighting.
Most of the products related to Robotics could be found in the Vehicle Intelligence categories. Some of the LiDARs that received the innovation award are Blickfeld Cube - solid-state LiDAR, Leddar PIXELL: The Cocoon LiDAR for Autonomous Vehicles, Ouster OS2-128 Long-range lidar sensor and RoboSense Smart LiDAR Sensor: RS-LiDAR-M1. Another various sensors I found about was VIPER and TriEye’s Raven SWIR cameras, Bosch SensorBox and Uhnder Radar-on-Chip (RoC).
2) CES 2020: Bzigo Laser System Detects and Tracks Mosquitoes So You Can Destroy Them.
INFO: This system is using a near-IR camera to track mosquitoes at up to 8m range. Once the mosquito is detected the system highlights it using a laser so that you can deal with it. Curiously the system is using 100% of four 1GHz cores for tracking.
3) [CES 2020 Keynote] Introducing Ballie!.
INFO: Samsung is proposing this small ball-like robot for the consumer market. From the video it looks like the robot will be able to follow you around, play videos for your dog and activate your smart vacuum cleaner. I’m very curious how an adoption of this robot will go given the recent issues the consumer robotics companies were facing.
4) Reachy Is an Expressive, Open-Source Robot.
INFO: Reachy is my favourite robot that I came across while researching CES. Visually what I like the most about this robot is the design of the head unit - I think it’s very sleek! Another thing I love about this is the fact that it’s open source both in hardware and software. You can find more information about this project on Pollen Robotics website or Reachy’s GitHub repository.
5) CES 2020: Toyota Is Building an Entire City Full of Autonomous Cars and Robots.
INFO: Toyota announced it’s plans to build a 175 acres city that will be a ‘living laboratory’, where researchers, engineers and scientists will be able to freely test technologies such as autonomous cars, robotics, smart home solutions etc. The construction of the city is said to start in 2021.
6) Robots of CES 2020: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
INFO: In this video from TWiT Tech Podcast Network you will find some more robots.
7) Velodyne Lidar Introduces Velabit.
INFO: Velodyne has announced a $100 LiDAR unit with a range of up to 100 meters and a field of view of 60 degrees by 10 degrees. The reason I consider this big news is the low price of the unit. I’ll definitely look forward to hear more about these sensors.
8) The Headless Robot Cat Company Has Made a Headless Robot Kitten.
INFO: Petit Qoobo is a robotic cat pillow with a wiggly tail meant for seniors in nursing homes or poeple who can’t own pets.
9) These Charmin Robots Make Us Wonder: Is Pooping the Next Tech Frontier?
INFO: A two-wheel balancing robot. To bring you toilet paper. If you are wondering if P&G is serious about this project then welcome to the club. You can see the discussion on this robot in CNET Highlights YouTube video.
10) The Coolest (And Weirdest) robots We’ve Seen at CES 2020.
INFO: You are still here and want to see some robots? In this CNET article you can click through the gallery to find some that I haven’t covered in this summary.
11) KEYi Tech educational CellRobot demo.
INFO: I came across this video on Twitter the other day and enjoyed this demonstration. Would love to play with such robots while I still was at school!
1) ArduSimple RTK2B+heading - First Impressions.
INFO: I’ve recently received an RTK kit from ArduSimple. I really like the promise of sub centimeter positioning precision and extra heading information that I will get by mounting two antennas on a robot. As you are reading this post I’m working on some 3D printed case for the module and some test scenarios. If you are interested in these kinds of things stay tuned for more info - I’ll be sharing more articles in the sponsored section.
2) Weekly Robotics Q4 2019 report.
INFO: Would you like to know how the Weekly Robotics newsletter did in the last quarter of 2019? In the report I outline some statistics on how the newsletter grew during that period and outline some plans on how to take this newsletter to the next level.
1) TERRINet Open Call.
INFO: TERRINet is the European Robotics Research Infrastructure able to offer top-quality infrastructures, excellent research services, and training to a variety of users worldwide. TERRINet enables you to get FREE access to 15 European Robotics Research Infrastructures to explore your ideas within (joint) research projects. You will have a great opportunity to get in contact with leading and creative scientists, technologists, experts and industry representatives who will inspire you. You could be granted with a free of charge Trans-national Access (TNA) to the research infrastructure of your choice. Click here https://www.terrinet.eu/robotic_database_show_all_platforms/ to browse all the platforms available in TERRINet. The submission deadline for this call is 31st of January.
What a year! When I’m thinking of what happened this year the only thing that comes to mind is how much I’ve learned, in large part thanks to this newsletter. Many thanks to all the readers - you are the main source of motivation that keeps this newsletter going! Let’s get to business!
The e-mail subscribers growth rate was very close to the last quarter - we ended the last quarter with 16.9% subscriber growth. We started the year with 431 subscribers, meaning that we’ve achieved a yearly growth in subscriptions of 214.85%. Not bad!
Compared to the previous quarter the number of users increased by 15.2% and the number of sessions increased by 23.3%. These days I’m saying quite a low amount of traffic from Google Discovery, if anyone has any ideas how to get featured there more often then feel free to let me know!
Time Spent on the Newsletter
This quarter was quite busy, mostly because of my work on an extra project (coming soon, I promise) and getting first SWAG produced - the “you will never gait alone” stickers.
Highlights of the Quarter
This quarter I was out talking to people about Weekly Robotics on 3 occasions - once presenting Weekly Robotics at Robotics and ROS Meetup in Zurich and twice meeting with people from Academia and Industry.
As I mentioned in the previous section I took some time to get the stickers printed and send it out to some of you. I’d really like to send it out to all of you but I don’t have a budget for that at the moment.
Speaking of budget - the biggest news is WR started making money! We had two companies purchase sponsored entries in the newsletter! In December I got the payout from Humble Bundle for the donations you’ve made while purchasing the books from the referral links. The total money earned from these sources got very close to covering the cost of making and sending out the stickers to the few of you.
I really really want to take this newsletter to the next level and will try very hard to do it this year. The main limiting factor is my free time. I need to make a living and since this project didn’t even get close to paying for itself I can only work on it in my free time. I’m hoping to change it this year by creating sponsorship options and looking hard for partners that will help me take this thing to the next level.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this report. I hope that you find the newsletter as exciting as I do and if you have any feedback, please feel free to reach out.
Starting from next week I’ll be publishing the newsletter on Monday’s CET instead of Sundays for at least 5 weeks due to some changes in my schedule, hope you won’t mind!
Even though I didn’t sum up the 2019 in robotics many others did! The one I particularly liked for robotics related news is the Robotshop summary. The Robot Report made a list of companies we’ve lost in 2019, that I also found to be a good reminder how difficult robotics business can be.
1) Hello (Real) World with ROS – Robot Operating System.
INFO: In 10 days a free 6 weeks ROS course will start on edX platform. The expected workload is approximately 8-12 hours per week and looking at the curriculum course should cover most of the basic on using ROS with Python.
INFO: I learned about SPHERES by reading the article NASA 2019 Space Station Research in Pictures. Each of these satellites is a polyhedron with a mass of about 4.1 kg and a diameter of 21 cm. They use CO2-based cold-gas thrusters for movement and ultrasonic beacon for localization. According to the linked articles they were predecessors to Astrobee, one of my favourite robots (#35, #39, #44, #60).
3) 2,000 Drones Light up Night Sky in Shanghai to Welcome New Year.
INFO: Have you seen this Shanghai drone display? It looks to me that the swarm control of multiple drones is solved problem.
4) Road-Marking Robot Adds Hard Drive to New A14.
INFO: It looks like lane pre-marking is a very time consuming and dangerous task. According to the article a line pre-marking robot had been deployed in some of the UK roadworks saving hundreds of hours for both the workers and drivers. The featured robot seems to be TinyPreMarker developed by TinyMobileRobots, a Danish robotics company.
5) Atlas - 6DOF 3D Printed Universal Robot.
INFO: For some reason I’m attracted to the idea of using BLDC motors in robot arms. In this project Damian Lickindorf is using ODrive to control two of the axes of the robot arm (the rest of the joints are using stepper motors). The robot is capable of carrying loads of up to 2.5-4.5 kg depending on speed of movement. If you like robot arms then I recommend checking out the project gallery. It contains amazing renders and videos of the author testing the robot.
6) The Material Science of Metal 3D Printing.
INFO: This video from Real Engineering discusses the current state of additive manufacturing techniques vs. the traditional manufacturing processes, especially when scale is considered.
1) Python & Machine Learning by Packt Bundle.
INFO: If you are interested in Machine Learning then you might like this bundle of ebooks from Packt. In the bundle you can get up to 21 books for $15. By purchasing the bundle you can support Innocent Lives Foundation and if you use the above link you can choose to support Weekly Robotics too.
1) Resolve Robotics (Whitehaven, Cumbria, UK) - Various Positions.
INFO: Resolve Robotics provides bespoke and rapidly delivered solutions for remote access, monitoring and intervention in hazardous environments. Founded in August 2019, the company has gained significant interest from key nuclear clients and is about to begin the development of our first core product.