Weekly Robotics #82

Issue 82

Last week I spent 30 minutes watching PaskMakes create a ‘bladeless fan’ from scrap wood. I don’t know what it is about woodworking videos but I find them very satisfying to watch lately. The most clicked link last week was the RDBOX repository with 15.9% opens.

1) Swarm of Robots Forms Complex Shapes Without Centralized Control.
IEEE Spectrum
INFO: Last week I’ve posted a video of these swarm robots in action. If you would like to learn more about them then this article might be a good start!

2) OpenTOFLidar.
INFO: This GitHub project contains information about an open source LiDAR that costs around ~114$ in parts to make. According to the information in the repository the scan rate of this sensor is around 15Hz, with a maximum distance of 25m and a resolution of ~1%. For more information about this project you can see this Google translated article or this YouTube video.

3) Socially Assistive Robot Helps Children with Autism Learn.
USC Viterbi
INFO: In this study children on an autism spectrum were given kiwi - a socially assistive robot that can study the child’s interest in completing a task. In this study the Researchers have used reinforced learning and tracked head pose, eye gaze, audio pitch and frequency and performance on the task. You can see the video about the study on YouTube.

4) 207: I Love My Robot Monkey Head (Repeat).
INFO: Speaking of social robots - in this episode of Embedded.fm the hosts interview Ayanna Howard, a roboticist and the School Chair for Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. I found the episode very insightful on robot kinematics, Robot Operating System (ROS), uncanny robots, human trust and safety and many other topics.

5) interbotix_puppet_control.
INFO: In a 78th issue I’ve featured Dynamixel Position Feedback Demo thanks to Allan. The above repository contains a ROS node that should allow you to pull off something similar with Interbotix robot arms.

6) Google Summer of Code.
INFO: Since last year I’ve shared information about GSoC I’ve felt obliged to report on the 2020 edition too. This year students can work on the following robotics and space related projects: AerospaceResearch.net, ArduPilot, JdeRobot, Libre Space Foundation, MoveIt, Open Source Robotics Foundation, OpenCV, Point Cloud Library, RoboComp. You can start applying to these projects starting from today!

7) Publication of the Week - BADGR: An Autonomous Self-Supervised Learning-Based Navigation System (2020).
INFO: BADGR (Berkeley AutonomousDriving Ground Robot) “is an end-to-end learning-based mobile robot navigation system that can be trained with self-supervised off-policy data gathered in real-world environments, without any simulation or human supervision”. The mobile platform used for this research is a Clearpath Jackal extended with 2 170 deg FoV RGB cameras, a 2D LiDAR and a compass. Using the trained model BADGR can predict the probability of the road bumpiness and collisions based on the information from the cameras. For more information about the project check out BADGR website.


1) ANYbotics (Zurich, Switzerland) - VP Software Engineering.
INFO: ANYbotics provides solutions for a new level of mobility and interaction capabilities for robots to step out of the factory floors. We develop the market for highly mobile legged robots operating in challenging environments.

2) Kobi (Leuven, Belgium) - Various Positions.
INFO: With our scalable AI robotics platform, we can convert almost any machine into an autonomous device!