Weekly Robotics #58

Issue 58

For the past 4 weeks the RSS feed in the newsletter was broken when I was trying to optimize some bits and pieces. Apologies to those affected, everything should be back to normal now! I’ve listened to The New Republic’s How Boeing’s Managerial Revolution Created the 737 Max Disaster and can highly recommend it, especially to those of you working on safety critical projects.

1) Drone Bubble Bursts, Wiping Out Startups and Hammering VC Firms.
Bloomberg
INFO: It looks like we might have reached the Trough of Disillusionment phase in the drone hype curve with the VCs not being so keen on funding new projects, companies scaling down or going bankrupt. In my opinion this is fine, it means that now we will start having realistic expectations about this area of robotics.

2) Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot Dog Goes on Sale.
IEEE Spectrum
INFO: You can now place an order for Spot Mini through the online form. At this stage the robot will be available to businesses only. Here you can find the launch video.

3) When it Comes to Robots, Reliability May Matter More than Reasoning.
Science Daily
INFO: “New Army-led research finds that human confidence in robots decreases after the robot makes a mistake, even when it is transparent with its reasoning process”.

4) Life at the Lab: Soft Robots.
YouTube
INFO: NASA is looking to use soft robotics in space, in this video you can see some of the mechanisms currently being tested by the researchers. If you are looking into having a go at these kinds of robots then soft robotics toolkit seems like a great place to start.

5) evo - Python Package for the Evaluation of Odometry and SLAM.
michaelgrupp.github.io
INFO: Via the package description: “This package provides executables and a small library for handling, evaluating and comparing the trajectory output of odometry and SLAM algorithms”.

6) Multi-Agent Hide and Seek.
YouTube
INFO: This video from OpenAI shows agents playing hike and seek and coming up with some interesting strategies through reinforcement learning. If you liked this video then back in issue #14 I’ve featured some examples of AI gaming the rules that you might find interesting.

7) More Parkour Atlas.
YouTube
INFO: Atlas has apparently learned some new parkour tricks. At first I couldn’t believe this was not CGI.

8) Publication of the Week - Mine Tunnel Exploration using Multiple Quadrupedal Robots (2019).
arXiv
INFO: This paper shows the detailed architecture of system for autonomous explorations of a tunnel using quadruped robots (Ghost Robotics Vision 60 to be precise). I like the level of detail this paper goes into, especially about the software and hardware architecture of the system.

Announcements

1) ROS-I EU Fall ’19 Tech Workshop.
rosin-project.eu
INFO: The next ROS-Industrial EU Tech Workshop will take place from Oct 9th to 10th 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany. The workshop will focus on the latest developments of MoveIt, security & skill oriented programming with ROS. The workshop is free for members of any ROS-Industrial Consortium or 500 Euro for individuals from other organizations.