Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive [7/18]

  • Weekly Robotics #45


    We are working on delivering some data for you. Next week we plan to share a Q2 2019 report! The numbers are already quite interesting, hope you are looking towards them as much as Mat is! In the meantime we are starting a call for header images, go to Announcements section for more information.

    1) PyRobot - an Open Source Robotics Research Platform.
    INFO: PyRobot is an open source package for benchmarking and running experiments in robot learning that is developed by Facebook. According to the documentation the goal of this project is to abstract away the low-level controls of robots from high-level motion generation. Currently the package supports two robot platforms: LoCoBot and Sawyer. If you would like a longer read about PyRobot then you should check out this publication on arXiv.

    2) GSoC 2019: Integration of ArduPilot and VIO Tracking Camera for GPS-less Localization and Navigation.
    ArduPilot Forum
    INFO: As part of Google Summer of Code 2019 Thien Nguyen has developed multiple tutorials on interfacing Intel Realsense T265 tracking camera with ArduPilot. Currently there are 5 Labs available. You will find links to them in the above post.

    3) HoverBot.
    INFO: HoverBot is a self-balancing robot platform built with ODrive, hoverboard hub motors, Bosch BNO055 IMU and Arduino Mega. The project repository contains high quality information about the project, build instructions and some videos. If you like the self balancing robots then you might find this smaller robot that we covered in issue #39 interesting.

    4) Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System.
    INFO: The above video shows a roadwork and excavation system developed by ULC Robotics with collaboration from SGN. The robot is tracked and is carrying what seems to be an ABB IRB series robot manipulator. According to the information in the video the system is capable of performing below-ground sensing, road surface cutting and excavation.

    5) Inside Anki Shutdown: Who Owns IP, Assets Auction, Failed Partnership.
    The Robot Report
    INFO: This article from The Robot Report tells you why you shouldn’t get your hopes up about Anki coming up. We were quite sad looking through the pictures in the auctioned office listing and also surprised to find a Jibo robot being part of the auction.

    6) T-RHex Is a Hexapod Robot With Microspines on Its Feet.
    INFO: A student’s team called Team ScienceParrot from Carnegie Mellon University made an upgrade to RHex robot by fitting it with a tail and microspines. The microspines allow the robot to get a strong grip on surfaces such as bricks, wood and concrete. According to the article the highest angle of the wall the robot can climb is 55 degrees (but it can hang onto a wall with an angle of 135 degrees!).

    7) Publication of the Week - How Robots Change the World (2019).
    Oxford Economics
    INFO: We’ve read this publication (to get a full access to it you will need to request it via e-mail form on the website). The report talks about the growth of robotics (especially between 2010 and 2019) and how the increased adoption of Robotics can affect the GDP of some of the countries and regions and at the same time how it can cause job displacements.

    1) ROS Web Tutorial Part 1 - Rosbridge Server and Roslibjs.
    INFO: In this beginner’s tutorial Mat shows how to create a simple webpage that integrates with ROS through rosbridge and that uses a virtual joystick to send velocity commands to the robot.


    1) Call for Header Images.
    INFO: Every issue of Weekly Robotics since #37 comes with a header image. We are looking for some new images to diversify a bit so if you know of any company that would like to show their robots in header images then please contact Mat.

  • Weekly Robotics #44


    Hi! In the previous issue we messed up the link to the first part of “How To Build a Lithium Battery”. In case you missed it Here is the working link! Please accept this video of robot being fed up of being abused by humans as a token of apology.

    1) Autonomous Drone Tutorials.
    INFO: This set of tutorials in English and Chinese from Generalized Autonomy Aviation System (GAAS). The tutorials cover offboard control, 3D reconstruction from images, indoor SLAM, path planning and vision based autolanding. The tutorials use ROS, PX4 autopilot and Gazebo simulator.

    2) Georgia Tech SlothBot Goes Slow to Save Energy for Environmental Monitoring.
    The Robot Report
    INFO: SlothBot is a wire traversing robot designed by Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The robot is recharged by photovoltaic cells and a wire switch mechanism that allows it to crawl through a network of wires.

    3) Red Planet Rovers and Insights.
    INFO: This lecture was published by NASA JPL as part of the von Kármán Lecture Series 2019. The first part of the lecture by Abigail Fraeman offers interesting insights on MARS rovers Curiosity, Opportunity and Mars 2020 rover. We really enjoyed learning about the evolution of dust storm that ended up incapacitating the rover (as you could learn in the issue 26), a geology of Mars and the project timescales. The second part of the lecture by Elizabeth Barrett is about InSight lander and how it’s going to help us understand Mars interior better.

    4) The High-tech Farming Revolution.
    INFO: In this 23 minutes long video from BBC we can see some examples of robotics that are used on the farms. We can learn about multicopters being used for crop surveying and pollination, fitting tractors with sensors and performing real time data processing and autonomous robots.

    5) Look, No Hands! NASA’s First Astrobee Robot “Bumble” Starts Flying in Space.
    INFO: We’ve mentioned Astrobee’s for the first time back in the issue #35 and included a paper on the topic in issue #39. On 20th of June NASA reported that the first Astrobee performed the first successful flight on the ISS.

    6) Inside The First-Ever Self-Driving Race Cars.
    INFO: This video by Business Insider offers some insights on Roborace and their Formula-1 like all electric self driving race cars.

    7) Publication of the Week - Kugle - Modelling and Control of a Ball-balancing Robot (2019).
    INFO: The above repository contains source code information of Kugle, a self ball-balancing robot. In the first section of readme file you will find a link to Thomas Kølbæk Jespersen’s master thesis on the robot (warning: the file is 100 Mb in size). Kuggle uses 3 omniwheels spaced 120 degrees apart from one another driven by Maxon motors with encoders and controlled using ESCON motor drivers. We’ve found the thesis to be solidly written and recommend going through it! Here you can find a YouTube playlist showing the project progress.


    1) Rapyuta Robotics (Tokyo, Japan) - Software Engineer - Robotics.
    INFO: Rapyuta Robotics is developing an enterprise-level Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for robots.

    2) Plus One Robotics (San Antonio, TX, US) - Artificial Intelligence Software Engineer.
    INFO: Plus One Robotics is a San Antonio-based 3D vision and controls developer for robotic automation in the logistics and e-commerce markets.

  • Weekly Robotics #43


    Welcome to the issue #43 of Weekly Robotics Newsletter! We just realized that in May we broke the record of website visits with 3k unique users! Combining that with our 900 e-mail subscribers we are on the edge of creating a community! Mat’s plan for the next couple of weeks is to streamline the process of releasing new issues and improve the Weekly Robotics database that we introduced last week. If you have any comments or ideas then feel free to get in touch, we love hearing from you!

    1) Gas Thruster Controlled Drone.
    INFO: In this video Tom Stanton is showing a ducted fan drone whose pitch and roll are controlled by pressurized air. Similarly to Tom’s video on reaction wheel control of a drone (featured in WR #26) we found the project to be quite informative and we learned a lot, just like the last time!

    2) Stanford Doggo.
    INFO: The above repository contains lots of information on Stanford Doggo, an open source quadruped robot. According to the BOM posted in the repository the robot costs about $3k in parts to make. We especially liked the coaxial mechanism that drives the legs. You can see the robot in action in this YouTube video but we also encourage you to read the paper on Doggo.

    3) How To Build a Lithium Battery.
    INFO: The above video by Adam Bender is a comprehensive guide on creating a lithium battery using 18650 battery cells. The second part of the series focuses on basics of lithium cells and battery design considerations.

    4) Why Robotics Needs Amazon: Analysis From re:MARS Conference.
    Robotics Business Review
    INFO: We think the above article sums up what we’ve learned from re:MARS conference that took place on 4th-7th of June. For more details about particular topics you can look at the following articles: Amazon’s new delivery drone(video), Robert Downey Jr. announcing world clean up with advanced tech, Jeff Bezos testing telerobotic hands.

    5) What a Terrific Duo! A Complete List of All the ROS-enabled Cobots.
    Cobotics World
    INFO: If you are wondering what lightweight robotic arms are supported by ROS packages then the above list is a good start.

    6) NASA Invests in Tech Concepts Aimed at Exploring Lunar Craters, Mining Asteroids.
    INFO: NASA has selected two project proposals related to space mining that will be further funded. Robotic Technologies Enabling the Exploration of Lunar Pits focuses on technologies for rapid survey and modelling of lunar craters. Mini Bee is proposing harvesting asteroid resources using optical mining (“Optical mining is an approach for excavating an asteroid and extracting water and other volatiles into an inflatable bag”). For more information about Optical Mining you can check out this webpage by Trans Astronautica Corporation.

    7) Publication of the Week - 2D SLAM Quality Evaluation Methods (2017).
    INFO: This paper by researchers from Saint-Petersburg Electrotechnical University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presents an approach for comparison of 2D SLAM algorithms. In the paper we will find comparison of the following SLAM packages/algorithms: Cartographer, gmapping, hectorSLAM, tinySLAM, vinySLAM.


    1) GreyOrange (Boston, MA, US) - Robotics Software Engineer-Motion Planning and Execution.
    INFO: GreyOrange designs, manufactures and deploys advanced robotic systems for automation in warehouses, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.

    2) ANYbotics (Zurich, Switzerland) - Various Positions.
    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.


    1) The 9th International Symposium on Adaptive Motion of Animals and Machines (20-23 August 2019).
    AMAM 2019
    INFO: AMAM 2019 is the 9th international symposium dedicated to stimulate fruitful interactions among biologists and engineers interested in adaptive motion. It aims at bringing together researchers in robotics, biomechanics, neuroscience, sports science, and other fields related to behavior in biological and artificial systems. The symposium will take place at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. The deadline for registration is 1st of July for regular price tickets and 10th of August for late registration.

  • Weekly Robotics #42


    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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).
    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!


    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.


    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.
    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.