Weekly Robotics #17

1) Bend-It: Design and Fabrication of Kinetic Wire Characters.
INFO: Disney Research has created a technique for producing kinetic wire characters using CNC bending machines. Researchers introduce spring-like templates in the wire so that the wire doesn’t experience plastic deformation.

2) Why Doesn’t Amazon Deliver my Stuff via Drone? An Interview with Colin Snow on Drone Delivery.
INFO: In this short interview Colin Snow of Skylogic Research talks about the challenges facing the concept of drone delivery.

3) This Plant Is Driving Its Own Robot.
INFO: Harpreet Sareen from MIT Media Lab is measuring signals from the plant and based on them drive the mobile robot base towards where plant “tells it to”.

4) BehaviourTree.CPP.
INFO: BehaviourTree.CPP is a C++ framework for creating Behaviour Trees which might serve as an alternative to Finite State Machine (FSM) for complex task planning. The github project contains a link to a video presenting the BehaviourTree.CPP in action. The project is open sourced under MIT licence.

5) China prepares mission to land a rover-lander combination on moon’s far side.
INFO: Chang’e 4 is a mission aiming to land on the dark side of the moon. The goal of the mission is to perform above and below surface exploration and possibly radio-astronomical studies. The mission launched on 7th of December and is expected to touch down on 3rd of January 2019.

6) CIMON robot debuts at ISS.
INFO: CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) is a robot assistant that was deployed to International Space Station. The robot was designed by DLR, Airbus and IBM and is using ISS WiFi and transmits the voice commands to Earth so that they can be processed by Watson, an IBM natural-language processing computer.

7) Publication of the week - Two Years of Visual Odometry on the Mars Exploration Rovers (2006).
INFO: Did you know that Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity had were equipped with 45 deg Field Of View (FOV) cameras producing 256x256 pixel stereo images for visual odometry providing a rover pose estimation in 6 degrees of freedom? According to the article the Visual Odometry started as an “extra credit” functionality but ended up being a critical safety system. In the first 10.7 km driven by the rovers the visual odometry was used for over 14% of navigation, mainly on steep terrain. The disadvantage that came with the visual odometry on those rovers is that it slowed down the robots by the order of magnitude, since the calculations were run on a 20 MHz CPU.


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