Weekly Robotics #90

Issue 90

Last week I’ve asked about the IR tracking camera used in the “surgery” robot. Many thanks to Rokus who identified the camera as Ultra Leap! The most clicked last week was pupper - the low cost open source quadruped with 18.5% opens.

1) How Many Jobs Do Robots Really Replace?
INFO: I think that’s an article all of us involved in making robots should read. Based on the research performed by Daron Acemoglu, an economist from MIT, adding a single robot to the workforce replaces 3.3 jobs across the US on average.

2) Don’t Fear the Robot.
INFO: A very thoughtful and well-written piece by Joe Jones, who developed Roomba (or DustPuppy). I’ve really liked the explanation of how difficult odometry was to pull off 20 years ago and how it would add $1k cost to the platform. “Just program the robot to remember where it’s been and not go there again” - this sounds like something I’ve been hearing a lot and it always reminds me of this xkcd strip. The article is well worth the read, I found the “three principles the team followed while developing Roomba” very refreshing.

3) Meet Moxie, a Social Robot That Helps Kids With Social-Emotional Learning.
IEEE Spectrum
INFO: While reading the previous article on doing a single thing well I’ve remembered this article about a social robot from Embodied that is meant to help kids with social-emotional development. Since it’s meant to be used up to once a day for a short period of time I can imagine it can be easier to get this right. I’m looking forward to some non-scripted demonstrators!

4) ArduBee, a Ready-To-Fly Micro drone for Education and Swarming.
INFO: Here is an interesting project from LimnousBees - a ArduPilot enabled micro drone with PCB as the frame. It could be a very nice research platform, especially if it indeed offers 45 minutes to 1hr flight time. My only concern with this design is that if you crash and break the PCB (I’m having flashbacks to the many drone arms that I’ve broken) you will likely need to replace the whole thing. If you like this type of drones but can’t wait for ArduBee launch then Crazyflie is the closest thing I know to this concept but is way smaller.

5) Self-Driving Cars with ROS and Autoware.
INFO: Apex.AI will be releasing a course on self-driving cars and ROS2. Can’t wait!

6) SQuad: A miniature robot that can walk and climb obstacles.
INFO: Here is an interesting idea: creating a soft robot body so that it’s easier to climb obstacles.

7) Publication of the Week - How Can Robots Help Us? (2020).
YouTube (Chris Atkeson)
INFO: Here is a lecture Chris Atkeson gave to students (grades 5-9) gave on Zoom. The lecture contains many interesting vintage robot videos. Something I never realised before is that Atlas cracked its shell during one of the agility demos (you can see it around 11:30 in the lecture). In the lecture you will also find some interesting facts about inflatable robots and Baymax.