Video Friday: TRI Expo

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!

TRI is inventing robotic capabilities that amplify people—rather than replace them—to address the challenges emerging from an aging society, both at home and at work. In order to develop entirely new approaches to robotics that apply to many different real-world applications, we first focus on solving what we call “challenge tasks”—tasks that are so difficult that the current state of the art cannot solve them, yet with quantitative metrics of success, so we can measure progress towards new capabilities. We then take the capabilities developed in these challenge tasks and demonstrate how they can be applied in multiple different real-world applications to amplify, not replace, people.

[ TRI ]

At the end of the 16th century, figure automata that could perform extraordinarily complex movements were among the great attractions. A lot has happened since then and it is hard to imagine our everyday life without robotics. In our latest film in cooperation with the Mathematical-Physical Salon at the Dresden Zwinger, the past meets the future. At night in the museum, the exhibits come to life and celebrate together the robotics location Saxony. We at CeTI want to push research even further to remain a leader in robotics for another 400 years.

[ CeTI ]

From THOR in 2014 to ARTEMIS today, RoMeLa has made a huge amount of progress in humanoid robotics.

[ RoMeLa ]

The New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell celebrates 10 years of breaking robots! This video features clips from the NERVE Center’s grand opening in 2013, our NASA Valkyrie humanoid robot in 2015, autonomous sUAS from the DARPA Fast Lightweight Autonomy Program in 2016, our Agility Robotics Digit in 2021, and several sUAS from our DECISIVE project in 2022. Here’s to another 10 years of busted propellers, severed wires, and dented chassis!

[ UMass Lowell ]

Thanks, Holly!

This past weekend, the Zoox robotaxi drove for the first time on open public roads in Foster City, California. Along the route, the robotaxi travels up to 35mph and navigates left-hand and right-hand turns, bi-directional turns, traffic lights, bicyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, and other road agents. It marked the first time in history that a purpose-built robotaxi—with no manual controls—drove autonomously on open public roads with passengers. It was a huge milestone for Zoox and the AV industry.

[ Zoox ]

Thanks, Whitney!

Brightpick Autopicker is the world’s first commercially-available autonomous mobile picking robot for order fulfillment. It is the only warehouse robot capable of both picking and consolidating orders in the aisles. Brightpick Autopickers are like humans with carts, autonomously picking and consolidating orders as they move through the warehouse aisles.

[ Brightpick ]

Thanks, Gaby!

Currently, soft robots do not offer a sustainable solution as (i) the vulnerability of their soft bodies towards different types of damages leads to a limited lifetime, (ii) the materials from which they are manufactured are fossil-based, and (iii) in addition are usually made from chemically crosslinked materials, mostly silicones, that have a poor recyclability and biodegradability. Here, we developed a series of self-healing bio-based materials that account for these challenges.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Bram!

Reinforcement learning recently shows great progress on legged robots, while bipedal robots in high dimensions but narrow solution space are still challenging to learn. Inspired by the assistive learning commonly shown in biped animals, we introduce the assistive force to aid the learning process without the requirement of reference trajectories. We analyze the assistive system and verify its effectiveness in multiple challenging bipedal skills.

[ Github ]

Thanks, Fan!

Robot, make me a lot of sandwiches.

[ ABB ]

I love this.

[ Kazumichi Moriyama ]

Does AI solve all robot control problems?

[ Agility ]

Pick and place doesn’t get much healthier than this.

[ Soft Robotics ]

GE Research is partnering with Warren Environmental and Garver to develop the PLUTO (PipeLine Underground Trenchless Overhaul) system, through the ARPA-e REPAIR initiative. PLUTO is a ground-breaking robot that can internally rehabilitate existing pipeline without the extensive digging, cutting, and extraction that is typically required to replace aging pipes.

[ GE ]

Offshore inspections can be complex and challenging, but Shell and their contractor, CAN USA, are using cutting-edge drone technology from Skydio to change that. Watch as we showcase the partnership’s first offshore use of Skydio’s AI-powered drones and their unparalleled obstacle avoidance, autonomous tracking, and GPS-denied navigation capabilities.

[ Skydio ]

Will robots replace dogs in earthquake rescue? No, robots won’t replace dogs, any more than the color blue would replace the color red on an artist’s palette. They are have different strengths and weaknesses. The real goal is to use them together—the dogs quickly indicate that there are survivors in the rubble, then the robots slowly work into the rubble to locate them.


In chapter 4 of NASA’s look back on the history if lidar, the Goddard team recounts the challenging paths that lead to the current lidar missions, the Global Ecosystems Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) and ICESat-2, which look to measure changes on our planet.

[ NASA ] [Leaders in Lidar Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3]

The Perseverance Rover has changed the way we look at Mars. Perseverance is investigating Jezero Crater–a region of Mars where the ancient environment may have been favorable for microbial life–and probing the Martian rocks for evidence of past life. The rover carries an entirely new subsystem to collect and prepare Martian rocks and sediment samples, including a coring drill on its arm and a rack of titanium sample tubes in its chassis. Throughout its exploration of the region, Perseverance will collect promising samples, seal them in tubes, and store them in its chassis until they are deposited on the Martian surface for retrieval by a future mission. We’ll talk with a member of the Mars 2020 team about the past two years of operation and discovery.

[ JPL ]

This GRASP On Robotics talk is from Rodney Brooks, who needs no introduction, on “Academic research: exploration vs exploitation.”

Intelligent action is critical in robotics, more so than much of AI where results are often mediated by humans in the loop. That said, robotics also needs to interact with humans. Currently we are in an age of exploitation of techniques that give new capabilities, and this is as true in academia as it is in industry. But we should hope that a few people in academia are also exploring whether current techniques are the ultimate solutions for robotics, or whether we should give some thought to whether we are busy riding a silicon-powered wave which will asymptote way below where popular hypenotism would lead us to expect. Perhaps there are really different questions to ask; looking at biological systems suggests that perhaps we don’t yet have a good grasp of very fundamental possibilities, and that there are rich rewards (and also possible penury) for those willing to take a hard look.

[ UPenn ]