Weekly Robotics #91

Issue 91

There is a brainstorm right now for the name of the next ROS 2 release. I’m quite bummed Gigantic Gamera can’t be used due to it being an external IP. It would make the cool name though! The most clicked link last week was the Autoware ROS2 course with 14.0% opens.

1) Metric vs Imperial Units: How NASA Lost a 327 Million Dollar Mission to Mars.
Everyday Astronaut
INFO: Here is a thought provoking video/article from Everyday Astronaut, where Tim Dodd talks about the Mars climate observer mission and how multiple errors had led to the agency losing contact with the spacecraft.

2) Guest article: A Story of Autonomous Logistics.
ROS Industrial
INFO: Here is a short story how StreetScooter is developing autonomous logistics using ROS - starting with follow me delivery.I haven’t been exploring Hardware In the Loop applications for quite a while now but I’m glad companies still make a very good use of this concept!

3) The fastai Book - Draft.
INFO: The draft of a fastai book is available for free on GitHub (be sure to check the licence though). These notes are used by Jeremy Howard in this $2k course and will be the basis of this O’Reilly book.

4) RoboCut: Hot-wire Cutting with Robot-controlled Flexible Rods [SIGGRAPH 2020].
YouTube (Simon Duenser)
INFO: ABB YuMi sounds like a perfect platform for an application like this (if you don’t know hot wire cutting - it’s when you pass current through a wire to heat it up and then use it to cut polystyrene foam - good stuff for your fixed wing airframes!). This work has been performed by researchers at ETH Zurich, you can find a PDF with their paper here. Every year I’m looking forward to the SIGGRAPH demonstrators, even though most of them are related to computer graphics I love seeing the progress in this domain and find lots of the videos very satisfying to watch. Here you can see videos with the technical preview of this year’s papers.

5) naminukas Gallery.
INFO: Here is a gallery showing an interesting design of a robot that can walk, climb walls and even drive! I highly recommend going through all the files here!

6) Robotic Rover Uses ‘Rear Rotor Pedaling’ to Avoid Sand Traps.
The Robot Report
INFO: “Developers have built a new robot known as the “Mini Rover,” which has appendages that can be lifted and wheels that can wiggle. They have used the rover to test complex locomotion techniques to help it climb hills covered with granular material – and avoid the risk of getting ignominiously stuck on some remote planet or moon”.

7) Publication of the Week - A Study on the Challenges of Using Robotics Simulators for Testing (2020).
INFO: This paper from Researchers from School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University sums up the survey of 82 Robotics developers on their usage of simulation tools. Interestingly 85% of the survey participants use simulation for testing and only 60% use it as a part of test automation.


1) Aeolus Robotics (Taipei, Taiwan) - Various Positions.
INFO: Founded to bring the first generation of multi-purpose robot assistants into service across the globe, Aeolus Robotics is a global company with offices in Taiwan, Poland, Austria and the USA. Integrating world-class, world-wide AI and Robot Systems genius with Taiwanese manufacturing aptitude, we are breaking new ground in general-purpose commercial-consumer robotics with capabilities in unstructured “human” spaces.

2) Pollen Robotics (Bordeaux, France) - Business Developer.
INFO: Back in 2013, we started with Poppy, the first 3D printed open-source humanoid robot and since then, we have been dedicated to creating open-source, open science and open data products. We work with scientists, artists and innovators to explore usages and make the robotics revolution an opportunity for everyone. Our newest addition is Reachy, an expressive open source humanoid robot that’s awesome for human/robot interaction and object manipulation. It is built with prepackaged AI and modular robotics that allow you to kickstart any real-world application.


1) NASA Wants Your Help Designing a Venus Rover Concept.
INFO: “NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, under a grant from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, is running a public challenge to develop an obstacle avoidance sensor for a possible future Venus rover. The “Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover” challenge is seeking the public’s designs for a sensor that could be incorporated into the design concept. Participants will have an opportunity to win a first-place prize of $15,000. Second place wins $10,000; and third place, $5,000. JPL is working with the NASA Tournament Lab to execute the challenge on the heroX crowdsourcing platform. Submissions will be accepted through May 29, 2020.”