Weekly Robotics Newsletter Archive [9/20]

  • Weekly Robotics Q2 2019 report

    Summer is here! And, wow, we can really feel it in central Europe.

    I decided to start doing quarterly updates with the newsletter statistics and future plans starting now! I hope that you will enjoy reading this report as much as I enjoyed making it.

    Email Subscribers

    We ended this quarter with 978 email subscribers (I was really hoping to reach 1k subscribers for this update, but you can’t always get what you want). Here is how the number of subscribers changed since the beginning of the newsletter:

    Mailchimp growth

    Weekly Robotics started this quarter with 664 email subscribers, meaning that we observed a 47% growth in subscribers in the past 3 months. I hope we can keep up this rate of growth for the foreseeable future.

    Website Traffic

    One of the goals I set for the Weekly Robotics was to make every issue of the newsletter available online and easily accessible to everyone, even if they are not subscribed via email. In some weeks I saw quite a big spikes in the number of users visiting the site, even though I kept using the same channels for sharing the information about the new issues and we didn’t run any ad campaigns just yet.

    Website visits

    According to Google Analytics we had 6.8k users and 9.3k sessions in the last quarter, increasing the traffic by 125% compared to the last quarter.

    Time Spent on the Newsletter

    This quarter I started logging time spent on the Newsletter. This includes all the research for every issue, development of tools, writing reports etc. Basically I logged every minute spent on the work related to the newsletter and the total time I spent these months came to 80:49:36 and there was only one week in which I spent under 4 hours working on Weekly Robotics:

    Time spent on Weekly Robotics

    Upgrades and future plans

    There are 3 things we improved in the quarter and a day:

    • Introducing the announcement section in WR #32 (the last day of Q1!)
    • Adding header image starting with WR #37 (5th of May)
    • Creating Awesome Weekly Robotics database and hosting it on WR and GitHub (9th of June)

    The plan for Q3 2019

    There is a single goal for me for Q3: to automate the newsletter workflow and look into self-hosted email delivery platform.

    Long Term Goals

    Here are some of the long term goals that I’m hoping to achieve this calendar year with Weekly Robotics:

    • Website redesign - especially looking into the structure of the website menu and maybe adding a landing page (while keeping the newsletter archive intact)
    • Finding the first sponsor/contributor for the newsletter
    • Starting a discussion group - either some kind of forum or a Slack channel

    Thanks a lot for being part of Weekly Robotics. I hope that you continue enjoying this newsletter! If you have any thoughts on this report don’t hesitate to reach out.


  • 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.