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Video Friday: Kiki Is a New Social Robot Created by Two Ex-Googlers

Video Friday: Kiki Is a New Social Robot Created by Two Ex-Googlers

Kiki robot Photo: Zoetic AI Meet Kiki, an AI robot sidekick now on Kickstarter.

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Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana
ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam
Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India
Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada
ARSO 2019 – October 31-1, 2019 – Beijing, China
ROSCon 2019 – October 31-1, 2019 – Macau

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


The DARPA Subterranean Challenge tunnel circuit takes place in just a few weeks, and we’ll be there!

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[ DARPA SubT ]


Time lapse video of robotic arm on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover handily maneuvers 88-pounds (40 kilograms) worth of sensor-laden turret as it moves from a deployed to stowed configuration.

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If you haven’t read our interview with Matt Robinson, now would be a great time, since he’s one of the folks at JPL who designed this arm.

[ Mars 2020 ]


Kiki is a small, white, stationary social robot with an evolving personality who promises to be your friend and costs $800 and is currently on Kickstarter.

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The Kickstarter page is filled with the same type of overpromising that we’ve seen with other (now very dead) social robots: Kiki is “conscious,” “understands your feelings,” and “loves you back.” Oof. That said, we’re happy to see more startups trying to succeed in this space, which is certainly one of the toughest in consumer electronics, and hopefully they’ve been learning from the recent string of failures. And we have to say Kiki is a cute robot. Its overall design, especially the body mechanics and expressive face, look neat. And kudos to the team—the company was founded by two ex-Googlers, Mita Yun and Jitu Das—for including the “unedited prototype videos,” which help counterbalance the hype.

Another thing that Kiki has going for it is that everything runs on the robot itself. This simplifies privacy and means that the robot won’t partially die on you if the company behind it goes under, but also limits how clever the robot will be able to be. The Kickstarter campaign is already over a third funded, so…We’ll see. 

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[ Kickstarter ]


When your UAV isn’t enough UAV, so you put a UAV on your UAV.

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[ CanberraUAV ]


ABB’s YuMi is testing ATMs because a human trying to do this task would go broke almost immediately.

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[ ABB ]


DJI has a fancy new FPV system that features easy setup, digital HD streaming at up to 120 FPS, and <30ms latency.

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If it looks expensive, that’s because it costs $930 with the remote included.

[ DJI ]


Honeybee Robotics has recently developed a regolith excavation and rock cleaning system for NASA JPL’s PUFFER rovers. This system, called POCCET (PUFFER-Oriented Compact Cleaning and Excavation Tool), uses compressed gas to perform all excavation and cleaning tasks. Weighing less than 300 grams with potential for further mass reduction, POCCET can be used not just on the Moon, but on other Solar System bodies such as asteroids, comets, and even Mars.

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[ Honeybee Robotics ]


DJI’s 2019 RoboMaster tournament, which takes place this month in Shenzen, looks like it’ll be fun to watch, with a plenty of action and rules that are easy to understand.

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[ RoboMaster ]


Robots and baked goods are an automatic Video Friday inclusion.

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Wow I want a cupcake right now.

[ Soft Robotics ]


The ICRA 2019 Best Paper Award went to Michelle A. Lee at Stanford, for “Making Sense of Vision and Touch: Self-Supervised Learning of Multimodal Representations for Contact-Rich Tasks.”

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The ICRA video is here, and you can find the paper at the link below.

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[ Paper ] via [ RoboHub ]


Cobalt Robotics put out a bunch of marketing-y videos this week, but this one reasonably interesting, even if you’re familiar with what they’re doing over there.

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[ Cobalt Robotics ]


RightHand Robotics launched RightPick2 with a gala event which looked like fun as long as you were really, really in to robots.

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[ RightHand Robotics ]

Thanks Jeff!


This video presents a framework for whole-body control applied to the assistive robotic system EDAN. We show how the proposed method can be used for a task like open, pass through and close a door. Also, we show the efficiency of the whole-body coordination with controlling the end-effector with respect to a fixed reference. Additionally, showing how easy the system can be manually manoeuvred by direct interaction with the end-effector, without the need for an extra input device.

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[ DLR ]


You’ll probably need to turn on auto-translated subtitles for most of this, but it’s worth it for the adorable little single-seat robotic car designed to help people get around airports.

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[ ZMP ]


In this week’s episode of Robots in Depth, Per speaks with Gonzalo Rey from Moog about their fancy 3D printed integrated hydraulic actuators.

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Gonzalo talks about how Moog got started with hydraulic control,taking part in the space program and early robotics development. He shares how Moog’s technology is used in fly-by-wire systems in aircraft and in flow control in deep space probes. They have even reached Mars.

[ Robots in Depth ]


IEEE SR

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