Weekly Robotics #40


Welcome to Weekly Robotics Newsletter #40 and thank you for being with us! We are striving for constant improvement and your feedback is highly appreciated! For any suggestions you can send us an e-mail. We are currently working really hard to bring to you a special sub projects that will premiere with issue #42, where all your questions will be answered. In other news: have you seen this dog-off at ICRA 2019?

1) It’s Not a Bird! But it’s Flying!
INFO: This YouTube video by CyberCouch shows the process of creating an Ornithopter, a flapping wing flying structure. The video goes through the basics required for a design, flapping mechanisms, motor and component selection and transmission systems. This video linked above ends with the working mechanism. The second episode goes over the design of fuselage, wings and tail. You can find more information on the project and build instructions on instructables.com.

2) Self-driving trucks begin mail delivery test for U.S. Postal Service.
INFO: U.S. Postal Service together with a startup TuSimple started a two week test of self-driving trucks that will be used for long distance transport. During the pilot program the trucks are planned to travel 3,380 km (2,100 mi) - 5 round trips between Phoenix and Dallas. Each truck will have a safety driver behind the wheel and an engineer on a passenger seat. For some more insights on TuSimple operations you can check out this article from Tucson Weekly.

3) LineRanger: A Revolution in Transmission Line Robotics.
INFO: Big thanks to Ludovic for pointing out this project by Hydro-Québec, we’ve found it to be quite inspiring! This transmission line robot is capable of attaching to power lines and traverse them (including the line crossings). Currently the robot needs to be deployed on the power lines using human assistance.

4) ROS Indigo Igloo Officially EOL.
INFO: Indigo Igloo, the first LTS (Long Term Support) distribution,officially reached the end of life (EOL). The distribution was released in July 2014. There were 475 people that contributed to the distribution, averaging 16 commits per author. The remaining LTS ROS distributions are Kinetic (EOL April 2021) and Melodic (EOL May 2021).

5) How Zipline Became a $1.2 Billion Drone Company.
Drone Life
INFO: On the 17th of May Zipline, a drone delivery service company, announced $190M in new financing, bringing the total valuation to $1.2 Billion. Zipline drones can carry 1.75 kg (3.86 lbs) of cargo, cruise at 110 km/h (68 mph / 60 knots) and can cover a round trip range of 160 km (100 mi). Since launching in Rwanda in 2016 Zipline performed over 14,000 deliveries. If you would like to know more about how Zipline operates in Rwanda we found this video from RealEngineering very informative.

6) UC Berkeley’s “Hyper-Aggressive Pogo-Stick” Robot Now Works Outdoors.
INFO: We mentioned Salto 1-P back in Weekly Robotics #9. The new update to the robot removes the need for the motion capture system and can be controlled using a joystick. Currently the system uses dead reckoning for position estimation.

7) Publication of the Week - Behavior Trees in Robotics and AI: An Introduction (2018).
INFO: Behaviour Trees Behaviour can serve as an alternative to Finite State Machine and be used for complex task planning in Robotics. The above contains a pre-print version of the CRC Press Book. If you would like to start implementing BehaviourTrees in your systems then you might want to take a look at BehaviourTree.CPP (featured in Weekly Robotics #17).

1) YDLIDAR X2 - ROS review and Cartographer setup.
INFO: In this blog post Mat, the author of Weekly Robotics, reviews YDLIDAR X2 - an $89 360 degree LiDAR with 7Hz update rate. The post shows the LiDAR working with Cartographer and points to the repository with full implementation of Mat’s solution.


1) Franka Emika (Munich, Germany) - Various Positions.
INFO: Franka Emika is a dynamic company that develops robotics technology for everyone, with a goal to overcome one of the biggest challenges of the modern society, relieving an entire generation of tedious, potentially dangerous, vastly time-consuming, and monotonous labor.

2) National Robotics Engineering Center (Pittsburgh, PA, US) - Various Positions.
INFO: NREC develops and matures robotics technologies and solutions from concept to commercialization. Our unique expertise places us at the forefront of unmanned ground vehicle design, autonomy, sensing and perception, machine learning, machine vision, operator assistance, 3D mapping and position estimation.