Video Friday: Space Station’s New Robot Helper, and More

CIMON - the intelligent astronaut assistant Photo: DLR

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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!):

Robotic Arena – January 12, 2019 – Wrocław, Poland
RoboDEX – January 16-18, 2019 – Tokyo, Japan

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


ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst welcomed a new face to the Columbus laboratory, thanks to the successful commissioning of technology demonstration Cimon. Short for Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN, Cimon is a 3D-printed plastic sphere designed to test human-machine interaction in space.

Developed and built by Airbus in Friedrichshafen and Bremen, Germany, on behalf of German Space Agency DLR, Cimon uses artificial intelligence software by IBM Watson. This video shows Alexander’s first interactions with Cimon on board the International Space Station. After introducing himself, where he comes from and what he can do, Cimon tests his free-flying abilities, helps Alexander with a procedure and even plays Alexander’s favourite song ‘Man Machine’ by Kraftwerk. In fact, Cimon likes the music so much, he does not want to stop.

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I’m like 95 percent sure that CIMON says “be nice please” because it hears Gerst say “deck” several times (starting at 5:00 in the video) with a slight accent and mistakes it for a bad word. Who’s really being a deck here, CIMON??!

[ DLR ]


NVIDIA’s PhysX 4.0 is now open source, and looks like it’ll make simulation much more robust and realistic.

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Huh. My cupboards have exactly the same stuff inside them.

[ NVIDIA ]


We already posted some videos of these water bottle flipping robots from ROBOCON, but there’s Part 2 of their “Best Of” videos. Really, though, you only need to see the flip from Nagano College that happens 5 seconds in, because it’s by far the most impressive.

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On purpose, I’m sure.

[ ROBOCON ]


This wire bending technique from Disney Research is pretty ingenious, and should prove quite useful for building compliant animated robotic characters.

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Elastically deforming wire structures are lightweight, durable, and can be bent within minutes using CNC bending machines. We present a computational technique for the design of kinetic wire characters, tailored for fabrication on consumer-grade hardware. Our technique takes as input a network of curves or a skeletal animation, then estimates a cable-driven, compliant wire structure which matches user-selected targets or keyframes as closely as possible. To enable large localized deformations, we shape wire into functional spring-like entities at a discrete set of locations. We first detect regions where changes to local stiffness properties are needed, then insert bendable entities of varying shape and size. To avoid a discrete optimization, we first optimize stiffness properties of generic, non-fabricable entities which capture well the behavior of our bendable designs. To co-optimize stiffness properties and cable forces, we formulate an equilibrium-constrained minimization problem, safeguarding against inelastic deformations. We demonstrate our method on six fabricated examples, showcasing rich behavior including large deformations and complex, spatial motion.

[ Disney Research ]


Delivery drones don’t make sense for tacos. They do make sense for this.

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Next year, the Lake Victoria Challenge will try to bring things a bit closer to reality.

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[ LVC ]


Happy Holidays from Yaskawa America.

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You are a ROBOT COMPANY that has REAL ROBOTS. Do this with REAL ROBOTS.

[ Yaskawa ]


Some eye candy for you from Team BlackSheep

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[ Team BlackSheep ]


Tiny PLEN is on Kickstarter!

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Looks like it’s about $260 plus shipping from Japan to get one.

[ Kickstarter ]


BotBoxer is a high-tech training machine for combat sports designed to be your personal sparring partner. The robotic punching bag recognizes and escapes your strikes, swelling both strength and velocity of your punches. Get an epic upper-body cardio workout, improve your stamina. Visualize your achievements with blow-by-blow statistics, set new challenges, while BotBoxer adapts to your level of boxing technique.

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$20,000.00

[ BotBoxer ]


ANYmal, a quadrupedal robot developed by RSL (ETH Zurich) and ANYbotics, is deployed in real-world environments showing its locomotion capabilities in different type of rough terrains.

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[ ANYmal ]


This is more of an automaton than a true robot, but hey, automaton is the name of this blog, right?

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You can get one for just $100, which is awesome.

[ Kickstarter ] via [ Boing Boing ]


Er, do the actual Transformers robots ever do their transforming thing with people inside? Because this robot does.

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[ J-Deite ]


This video showcases the Endeavor Robotics Scorpion. The all-new Scorpion will give Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Infantry, and other Soldiers an advanced, multi-purpose robot for the modern battlefield.

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“Scorpion is currently only available to the United States DOD.” Aww.

[ Endeavor Robotics ]


KUKA partner, Life Science Robotics, has developed a revolutionary rehabilitation therapy system that uses a KUKA LBR Med robot. The robotic system, named ROBERT®, is developed for rehabilitation of bedridden patients. The purpose of ROBERT® is to identify needs and to make a difference for patients, healthcare workers and society. With our LBR Med as a main component, ROBERT® is the first robot in the world that is custom-made for the purpose of taking care of rehabilitation of bedridden patients.

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[ Kuka ]


In the latest installment of our Future of Work series, Miles O’Brien visits MIT’s Interactive Robotics Laboratory to understand the “new species” of robots scientists are designing to work alongside humans safely. Though the devices often excel at repetitive tasks, will they be able to function just as well in dynamic environments, such as the faced-paced world of health care?

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[ PBS ]


Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, and its executive chairman from 2011 to 2017, guiding the company through a period of incredible growth and a series of world-changing innovations. This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast and the MIT course 6.S099: Artificial General Intelligence.

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[ Lex Fridman ]


IEEE SR

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