Weekly Robotics #70

Issue 70

Last week I’ve mentioned that I couldn’t find any video from the AlphaPilot AI drone race. Fortunately Martin Nievas had my back on twitter and shared this tweet that features a bit longer video that gives you an idea how the drone flew.

I would like to wish a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all of you reading this. If you’d like to get into christmas mood with some themed video then check out some from: ETH Zurich Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zurich Robotics Systems Lab, FZI Living Lab, ALTAIR Robotics Lab, Northern Robotics Laboratory, LAI Robotics, Technical University of Munich, Rozum Robotics. In hindsight I should have probably made a whole newsletter issue with these videos… Maybe next year! I bet I missed plenty of videos, feel free to share some with me on twitter and I’ll happily reshare them.

1) Game of Drones at NeurIPS 2019: Simulation-based Drone-Racing Competition Built on AirSim.
Microsoft
INFO: Coming back to the topic of drone racing for a bit: “at NeurIPS the AirSim research team is working together with Stanford University and University of Zurich to further democratize drone-racing research by hosting a simulation-based competition, Game of Drones. We are hosting the competition on Microsoft AirSim, our Unreal Engine-based simulator for multirotors. The competition focuses on trajectory planning and control, computer vision, and opponent drone avoidance”. AirSim is one of the many projects I featured in awesome-WR - a database highlighting some of the interesting robotics I covered in this robotics newsletter.

2) First Drive Test of NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover.
YouTube
INFO: NASA’s MARS rover was tested earlier this week. I find it fascinating how many engineers are involved in these tests. I wonder how much data a test like this generates?

3) Aeva Unveils Lidar on a Chip.
Spectrum IEEE
INFO: From time to time I hear about LiDARS on chips (or solid-state LiDARS), usually without much detail. According to the article Aeva’s solution should cost <500$ when mass produced and will offer a 120° horizontal and 30° vertical field of view and a range of up to 300 meters.

4) Digit v2: Dynamic Obstacle Avoidance.
YouTube
INFO: Agility Robotics engineers are invading Digit’s personal space causing it to move away. I think the captions add a lot to this video.

5) Mimic.
GitHub
INFO: Mimic is an open-source Maya plugin for controlling Industrial Robots developed by Autodesk Robotics Lab. For more information see the Mimic website - it seem to have a good amount of tutorials available. If you would like to see this plugin in action then this one year old video should give you a good idea how it works.

6) Sarcos Demonstrates Powered Exosuit That Gives Workers Super Strength.
IEEE Spectrum
INFO: “If you were to ask the question, What does 30 years and $300 million look like, you’re going to see it downstairs”. This IEEE Spectrum article covers Guardian XO, a 24 DoF, a full body exoskeleton allowing the user to weight up to 90 kilograms (200 pounds). I find the company’s business model interesting as they seem to offer a Robotics-as-a-service type of solution.

7) Publication of the Week - Multi-Functional Soft-Bodied Jellyfish-Like Swimming (2019).
Nature
INFO: I stumbled upon this article thanks to Reddit user SDSS-J1106-1939 and his post on /r/Robotics. In this work Researchers an untethered jellyfish inspired soft robot to study jellyfish locomotion. I highly recommend watching the video showing the robot in action - when you do pay attention to the scale of these robots.