Weekly Robotics #2

1) ViSP - an open source visual servoing platform library.
INFO: ViSP (Visual Servoing Platform) helps in developing robotics control systems in which visual tracking is at the heart of the project. ViSP team youtube channel is full of videos with interesting applications (top picks: 1, 2). It’s also worth noting a very well managed project documentation.

2) DonkeyCar - DIY self driving platform.
INFO: The project uses off the shelf R/C car that you can modify (add a camera, print 3D parts, program a Raspberry Pi). The project is fully open source and there is a very supportive community maintaining it. Here is a video showing an autonomous donkey race in action.

3) DARPA Subterranean Challenge.
INFO: DARPA is organizing a Subterranean Challenge aiming to explore technologies to map, navigate and search underground environments. The final event will take place in 2021 and the finalist will take a $2M USD price.

4) Caltech engineers herd birds with a drone.
INFO: The engineers developed an algorithm aiming at making passenger aircrafts takeoffs and landings safer by positioning a with respect to the flock of birds in such way that the whole flock changes the course. Interestingly, during operation the drone has to stay at just the right distance from the flock, if it comes too close the flock will scatter. You can find the full paper here.

5) PythonRobotics - repository with robotics algorithms. Written in Python.
INFO: This project by Atsushi Sakai
showcases various robotics algorithms through nice visualizations. The repository
seems to contain all the source files needed to replicate the results, making it a great learning resource. If you find this resource helpful please consider supporting the author.

6) European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for ideas for new space transportation services.
INFO: ESA is offering feedback on concepts for new commercial space transportation services. The ideas have to be sound, commercially viable and complement existing ESA space transportation programmes and activities. Three outstanding entries received before 14th of September 2018 will win a trip to Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to see a launch.

7) Paper of the week - ROS: an open-source Robot Operating System (2009).
INFO: ROS (Robot Operating System) is a framework (or a middleware) that supports rapid prototyping of software for robotics systems. The paper introduces the design goals of ROS. It also covers the basic nomenclature (nodes, topics, messages) and provides some usecases. If you want to explore ROS further then the official ROS website
is probably the best place to start. You will also need a computer (or a virtual machine) running Ubuntu or Debian.