Video Friday: Grav Enhanced

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

HRI 2023: 13–16 March 2023, STOCKHOLM
Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL

Enjoy today’s videos!

Flexiv’s Grav Enhanced gripper uses a gecko adhesive, which has historically been difficult to do in a commercial context. We’re looking forward to more details on how they’re making it work.

[ Flexiv ]

A team of engineers has devised a modular system to produce efficient, scalable aquabots. The system’s simple repeating elements can assemble into swimming forms ranging from eel-like to wing-shaped.

[ MIT ]

RoboCup teams probably use their humanoids more aggressively than anyone else, so they have to come up with new techniques to keep them walking even as they gradually get more and more worn out.

In this video, our previous walk approach (Walking 2022) is compared to our new one (Walking 2023). A worn-out robot with high joint play is used for this demonstration. Our new walk uses the previous approach as a baseline. To ensure stability, we use a regulation to modify the allowed rotation speed of the support foot’s joints. Thus, the different leg parts will still execute the intended motion, but based on the center of mass and the measured rotation errors of the support foot, some leg parts are slowed down if needed.

[ B-Human ]

Most legged robots are built with leg structures from serially mounted links and actuators and are controlled through complex controllers and sensor feedback. In comparison, animals developed multi-segment legs, mechanical coupling between joints, and multi-segmented feet. We report how multi-segmented feet provide a large range of viable centre of pressure points well suited for bipedal robots, but also for quadruped robots on slopes and natural terrain. Our results also offer a functional understanding of segmented feet in animals like ratite birds.

[ Paper ]

A millipede/centipede, despite its legs being small in comparison to the body, is able to stably traverse complex 3D terrain (i.e., terrain with concave and convex curves or slopes of varying degrees). This is due to its body being split into multiple segments, which allow for upward and downward bending behavior, resulting in low ground clearance and stable locomotion. The body bending behavior also exhibits successive propagation from anterior to posterior body segments. Inspired by the millipede body bending behavior, we propose proactive neural control with fast online unsupervised learning and short-term memory mechanisms, allowing multi-segmented, legged robots to proactively adapt their body to follow the surface contour and maintain efficient ground contact like millipedes.


Thanks, Poramate!

Rollovers and jackknifes are a dangerous risk to trucks when navigating highways. For the Waymo Driver, we use outrigger tests to help our system prioritize balance when navigating curved roads at high speeds. Take a look at how it all comes together at our closed-course testing facilities.

[ Waymo ]

Imagine if one test could tell you if you were protected from the latest COVID-19 variant. An innovative robotic neutralizing antibody testing system developed by ABB Robotics and UTMB is helping to achieve this by enabling hundreds of tests to be conducted each day, with the resulting test data being used to assess individuals’ immunity against different strains of the virus.

[ ABB ]

At Agility, we make robots that are made for work. Our robot Digit works alongside us in spaces designed for people. Digit handles the boring and repetitive tasks that are meant for a machine, which allows companies and their people to focus on the work that requires the human element.
We put an open invitation out to our followers on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to ask our CEO Damion Shelton and CTO Jonathan Hurst anything related to Agility and robotics in general.

[ Agility Robotics ]

This is exactly how I set the table.

[ Sanctuary AI ]

The Zoox robotaxi is designed for city streets, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go fast. Operating at high speeds requires rigorous testing, first in simulation and then IRL. Meet some of the crew who are ensuring you’ll have a safe and comfortable ride, whether it’s at 5MPH or 75MPH.

[ Zoox ]

At Capacity, a forward-thinking third-party logistics firm with expertise in Health and Beauty products, AI-robotic putwalls from Covariant are key to delivering superior customer experiences. With the ability to act autonomously to pick virtually any of the diverse SKUs that come through Capacity’s operations, Covariant putwalls help streamline operations.

[ Covariant ]

Sure Bak, who worked as an interactive product UX designer at Porsche, currently works on designing HRI (Human-Robot Interaction) at NAVER LABS. He clearly defines the difference between a car and a robot as a car being ‘me’ and a robot being ‘you’.

[ Naver Labs ]

This year, we celebrate the tenth anniversary of NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Swamp Works. Swamp Works was developed as a space devoted to innovation and collaboration across Kennedy’s research facilities, which include the granular mechanics and regolith operations (GMRO), applied chemistry, electrostatics and surface physics, and applied physics laboratories.

[ KSC ]

Social home robots have had a hard time of it, but ElliQ has promise with its focused value proposition.

[ ElliQ ]

Tech Panel: The progression of robotics since Shakey the robot has been remarkable. Yet there are still many challenges that field robotics must surmount: outmatching humans in pick and place-like applications, maneuvering in tight spaces at high speeds, dealing with adversaries, being resilient and finding a representation of the physical environment that allows for dexterity, manipulation of objects and mobility through deformable or unstable terrains. This panel will address the next breakthroughs in field robotics, define future challenges and explore ways that DARPA can accelerate their development.


Tech Panel: In 2004, DARPA launched interest in self-driving vehicles with a Grand Challenge. Back then, none of the vehicles could even finish the course. Today, we have a fully driverless taxi services in San Francisco and Phoenix. But while rapid progress has been made, fully automated vehicles aren’t yet the norm. What are the challenges remaining to get us to truly autonomous vehicles in any environment, and what are the important distinctions for military use as compared to consumer use?


Leaders in Lidar | Chapter 3: Take the Next Steps. Riding on the success of MOLA, the Goddard team develops new lidar instruments for Earth, the Moon and Mercury. Each new instrument is a major leap forward in technology and scientific ambition and equally fraught with challenges.

[ NASA ] [Leaders in Lidar Chapter 1, Chapter 2]

This CMU RI Seminar comes from Sarcos COO Jorgen Pedersen, on “RE2 Robotics: from RI spinout to Acquisition.”

It was July 2001. Jorgen Pedersen founded RE2 Robotics. It was supposed to be a temporary venture while he figured out his next career move. But the journey took an unexpected course. RE2 became a leading developer of mobile manipulation systems. Fast forward to 2022, RE2 Robotics exited via an acquisition to Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation for $100M. In this talk, Jorgen will share the 20 year journey of RE2 Robotics, which includes bootstrapping a robotics business, leveraging Government funding as non-dilutive investment, pivoting at critical moments, raising capital in order to scale, commercializing cutting edge robotics technology, and most importantly, recognizing the importance of vision, mission, and core values to build a strong culture that can overcome any obstacle.

[ CMU RI ]