Weekly Robotics #59

Issue 59

Have you seen this video of Waymo employees testing the self driving car on their commutes? According to the description in the video the feature tested at the time was similar to highway assist features (assuming not very close to full autonomy). I feel I agree with the point made in the description that “nothing short of full autonomy will do”; I’m starting to agree - most of us will most probably be too distracted if they are not fully engaged.

0) Weekly Robotics Q3 Reports.
Weekly Robotics
INFO: Do you like numbers? I made a Q3 report summarizing the newsletter performance in the last quarter. Hope you like it!

1) Unleash Your Smart-home Devices: Vacuum Cleaning Robot Hacking.
INFO: Apparently smart vacuum cleaners made by Xiaomi run Ubuntu 14.04. I was hoping that the robot would run ROS however nothing I’ve seen in the video and project repository seems to indicate that they are using ROS. Using information from this GitHub repository and applying the things shown in the above video you can install a xiaomi_bridge and “rosify” your vacuum cleaner.

2) Fictiv Teardowns.
INFO: Big thanks to Illia for sending me these links! Apparently Fictiv does some teardowns of robots; in the above video you can see how a $300 iRobot Braava Robot Mop is built. On YouTube you can also find teardowns of Anki Vector, Neato Robot Vacuum and Roomba 650.

3) mjbots quad A0.
INFO: mjbots quad A0 is an open source quadruped robot, very similar to MIT mini cheetah] that you could read about in the issue #28. In the Hackaday project page you will find a video summarizing 1 year of author’s work on this robot that’s worth watching. The project is licensed under Apache 2.0.

4) Robotics Investments Recap: September 2019.
The Robot Report
INFO: This article from The Robot Reports shows robotics investments, mergers and acquisitions that happened in September.

5) Controlling Robots Across Oceans and Space – No Magic Required.
INFO: A signal from ISS to earth needs to make a round trip of 144 400 km. Assuming that the signal travels at a speed of light then we are dealing with 0.5 second delay. If you want to add haptic feedback to teleoperation I imagine it can be quite a tough issue to tackle, especially from user interface perspective. This article from ESA explores the history of robot control from space and introduces Meteron project experiment that will take in November this year. As part of this trial ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will operate a rover in Netherlands while onboard ISS. We will let you know when we learn any more information about the experiment.

6) ROS 2 Navigation: Now We Are Getting Somewhere.
Rover Robotics
INFO: This article from Rover Robotics compares 5 different ROS 2 middlewares for launching a navigation stack. We are getting there!

7) Publication of the Week - Report On Needs of the ROS 2 Community (2019)(PDF).
PickNik Consulting
INFO: Speaking of ROS 2 this 14 pages document from PickNik Consulting is a survey report on 15 robotics companies regarding their use and perception of ROS 1 and ROS 2. There are some interesting ideas on the required steps to make ROS 2 more appealing to companies and early adopters.

1) Humble Book Bundle: Linux & UNIX by O’Reilly.
Humble Bundle
INFO: If you are working in Unix environment you might find this bundle of interest. I’m especially interested about the book on vi and vim and linux device drivers. By purchasing this bundle you can choose to support Code for America and Weekly Robotics.


1) Pro-Drone (Lisbon/Alentejo, Portugal) - Various Positions.
INFO: Pro-Drone is a tech start-up that is revolutionizing how assets are inspected worldwide by developing autonomous UAV inspection solutions.

2) Neuralink (San Francisco, CA, US) - Software Engineer, Roboticist.
INFO: Neuralink is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. We are building a team of multidisciplinary experts passionate about making a world-changing impact.