Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive [7/27]

  • 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.
    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.
    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).
    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!


    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.


    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.


    1) RoboCup 2020 Virtual Robot – Call for Participation.
    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.

  • Weekly Robotics #74

    Issue 74

    In this issue of Weekly Robotics we have something special: A podcast episode! This first episode opens up the features section of the newsletter. I’d love it to be a place where anyone from the community can share quality content so if you have written something that you’d like to share with the Robotics world please let me know.

    1) Disaster-relief Robotics in Nepal | Patrick Meier | TEDxBerlin.
    INFO: In this TEDx talk Patrick Meier, an executive director of WeRobotics, explains how robots (drones, boats and even submarines) can be used by local communities for disaster response and data analysis. It’s refreshing to see robotics used for good causes. Big thanks to Klaudyna for sharing this video with me!

    2) Navigation2 WG Changes and Help Wanted.
    ROS Discourse
    INFO: Sad news from ROS2 world - a team that has been working on Navigation2 stack for 18+ months at Intel is being disbanded. I sincerely hope that these engineers will find their way back into working on ROS2 in some way!

    3) MOOS.
    Oxford Mobile Robotics Group Powered by PmWiki
    INFO: “MOOS is a C++ cross platform middleware for robotics research. It is helpful to think about it as a set of layers”. This framework has been used on Oxford Robotics Institute RobotCar.

    4) Virtual RobotX 2019.
    Open Robotics
    INFO: This post sums up the results of RobotX competition, a competition organized by Open Robotics, Naval Postgraduate School and the Office of Naval Research. In the challenge students had to come up with a solution to a number of problems related to operating an USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle). The competition used ROS and Gazebo simulator as a competition platform.

    5) Particle Filter.
    Lei Mao’s Log Book
    INFO: If you like learning about SLAM (or working with SLAM libraries like amcl) then you might like Lei’s notes on the subject. You will find the full repository with particle filter source code on GitHub.

    6) Rodney Brooks Predictions Scorecard.
    INFO: In 2018 Rodney Brooks has made some predictions about self driving cars, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, and about progress in the space industry. In this annual self appraisal post you can see how well his predictions are holding up so far.

    7) Publication of the Week - Orbit and Attitude Performance of the LightSail 2 Solar Sail Spacecraft (2020)(PDF).
    Planetary Society
    INFO: Back in WR #49 I covered the successful deployment of Solar Sail in the LightSail 2 experiment. Planetary Society has released a paper with an assessment of the LightSail 2 performance. As it is often the case with such papers I found the Lessons Learned section particularly interesting.

    1) WR Podcast - Episode 1: Bio Robotics with Auke Ijspeert .
    Weekly Robotics
    INFO: The first episode of Weekly Robotics Podcast Project is out! Recently I had a chance to interview Auke Ijspeert, a head of Bio Robotics Laboratory at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. I’ve learned a ton while making this episode and I hope you will learn something too!


    1) Open Call for Robot Operating System (ROS) the Complete Reference (Volume 6) Chapters.
    INFO: The call for the 6th volume of Springer book on ROS is open until 1st of April. The book will be published by January 2021 and will mostly focus on ROS2.

    2) RobotUnion Rocked 2019 and Is Going for More!
    INFO: This post from RobotUnion, an EU consortium that helps growing robotics related startups and SMEs, sums up their year with companies starting acceleration programmes and some showing a very solid growth. Weekly Robotics is a community partner of RobotUnion!

  • WR Podcast - Episode 1: Bio Robotics with Auke Ijspeert

    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.