Video Friday: Kuka’s Home Robot, Nao Upgrade, and Bionic Cuttlefish

Posted by on June 15, 2018 6:49 pm
Categories: Robotics

Video Friday: Kuka’s Home Robot, Nao Upgrade, and Bionic Cuttlefish

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Photo: Festo

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!):

RoboCup 2018 – June 18-22, 2018 – Montreal, Canada
RSS 2018 – June 26-30, 2018 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
Ubiquitous Robots 2018 – June 27-30, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii
MARSS 2018 – July 4-8, 2018 – Nagoya, Japan
AIM 2018 – July 9-12, 2018 – Auckland, New Zealand
ICARM 2018 – July 18-20, 2018 – Singapore
ICMA 2018 – August 5-8, 2018 – Changchun, China
SSRR 2018 – August 6-8, 2018 – Philadelphia, Pa., USA
ISR 2018 – August 24-27, 2018 – Shenyang, China
BioRob 2018 – August 26-29, 2018 – University of Twente, Netherlands
RO-MAN 2018 – August 27-30, 2018 – Nanjing, China

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

Kuka, who has a near monopoly on industrial robots that are painted orange, is now getting into consumer robots. Or, they’re thinking about it, at least.

Our i-do concept study, that we presented at Hannover Fair 2018, goes a considerable step further, however. I-do is a home robot platform that already hints at how we expect our homes to be in the future. Our home assistant is designed to assume all types of duties and makes our homes safer, achieving all this equipped with the requisite modular features and controlled by voice commands.


The Yamanaka Laboratory at the University of Tokyo hosted an expo this week called Parametric Move. It featured some creative robots (each driven by just one motor) that make me slighty uncomfortable:

And one that makes me VERY uncomfortable:

There was also this beautifully delicate robotic head called SEER, by Takayuki Todo:

And this robot made from servos and sticks that evolved its own optimized walking gait:

[ Parametric Move ]

Early riders in Arizona are using Waymo every day to get around town. Hear what it’s like to be one of the first in the world with access to fully self-driving cars.

[ Waymo ]

Softbank Robotics has super low-key launched a new version of NAO, the V6. It looks like the upgrades are mostly internal, but you can tell a new V6 from the dark grey color and the “NAO” logo on the chest (instead of the Aldebaran logo). RoboLab has the V6 for sale, and here’s a look at what’s new:

[ RobotLab ]

Usually, Festo releases all of its bionic learning network experiments at once, but they’ve snuck this robot in late. Called BionicFinWave, it’s inspired by the cuttlefish (and some other less interesting swimmy things):

The BionicFinWave uses its two side fins to move along. They are completely cast from silicone and do without struts or other support elements. This makes them extremely flexible and thus able to implement the fluid wave movements of their biological role models true to nature.

For this purpose, the two fins on the left and right are each fastened to nine small lever arms. These in turn are driven by two servo motors located in the body of the underwater robot. Two attached crankshafts transfer the force to the levers in such a way that the two fins can move individually. They can thereby generate different wave patterns, which are particularly suitable for a slow and precise movement and whirl up water less than a conventional screw drive does, for example.

In order to swim in a curved line, for example, the outer fin moves faster than the inner one – similar to the chains on a digger. A third servo motor on the head of the BionicFinWave controls the flexure of the body, which helps it to swim up and down. So that the crankshafts are suitably flexible and supple, a cardan joint is fitted between each lever segment. For this purpose the crankshafts including the joints and the connecting rod were made out of a single piece of plastic with the 3D printing method.

Festo BionicFinWave ]

Robocon is a robotics competition kind of like FIRST, except with more of an emphasis on autonomy. This year’s competition may have been a little bit miscalibrated, though, because the winning team in Japan took just 15 seconds to complete the entire challenge:

The goal here was to for each team’s robot to autonomously toss a ball through the red (or blue) hoop twice, and then the first team to toss a ball through the gold hoop and into the round catching thing wins the match.

[ Robocon ]

This video from Kod*lab is essentially a demonstration of all the different ways that Minitaur can bounce around adorably:

[ Kod*lab ]

We don’t just share the road with other vehicles. We share the road with people as they walk, run and bike to their destinations. Our autonomous car system, Asimov, is designed to treat people differently than cars, because they move differently. Torc’s number one priority has always been safety. While navigating traffic, the safest decision may require assertive driving. However, we always take a cautious approach toward pedestrians.

This video shows real situations that our self-driving car encountered with people on public roads. You’ll see our car stop for a person stepping off a crowded sidewalk into the street right in front of us. We shift over to provide space for a person walking in the bicycle lane. Our self-driving car predicts pedestrian movement to safely yield at crosswalks, stopping to allow people to cross before they even enter, or slowly passing by when it is finally determined that the person plans to wait.

[ TORC Robotics ]

The MIT Quest for Intelligence seeks to discover the foundations of human and machine intelligence and drive the development of technological tools that can positively influence society.

[ MIT ]

Researchers at the Cluster of Excellence CITEC are investigating human-machine interaction with Pepper, a humanoid robot. The robot’s capabilities include navigation, detection of objects and people, and grasping. Pepper can also learn new movements with the help of a human counterpart. Using Augmented Reality, the person interacting with Pepper can see how the robot perceives the world.


This is not a very exciting video, but consider it a reminder that when you get tired of watching boring human football, super exciting robot football will be happening at RoboCup 2018 in Montreal next week, and it’ll be livestreamed!

[ RoboCup 2018 ] via [ Tech United ]

Here are some highlights of soft robotics research in Japan, posted by the ISI Laboratory at the University of Tokyo. To understand what these folks are saying, I’d encourage you to turn on YouTube’s auto-translated captions, which are both informative and entertaining.

“It’s like turning the bulging force into the power of the mind.”


[ ISI Lab ]

Robots are designed for speed and precision — but their rigidity has often limited how they’re used. In this illuminating talk, biomedical engineer Giada Gerboni shares the latest developments in “soft robotics,” an emerging field that aims to create nimble machines that imitate nature, like a robotic octopus. Learn more about how these flexible structures could play a critical role in surgery, medicine and our daily lives.

[ TED ]

Many artificial intelligence researchers expect AI to outsmart humans at all tasks and jobs within decades, enabling a future where we’re restricted only by the laws of physics, not the limits of our intelligence. MIT physicist and AI researcher Max Tegmark separates the real opportunities and threats from the myths, describing the concrete steps we should take today to ensure that AI ends up being the best — rather than worst — thing to ever happen to humanity.

[ TED ]

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