Video Friday: Pedipulate

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 2024: 11–15 March 2024, BOULDER, COLO.
Eurobot Open 2024: 8–11 May 2024, LA ROCHE-SUR-YON, FRANCE
ICRA 2024: 13–17 May 2024, YOKOHAMA, JAPAN
RoboCup 2024: 17–22 July 2024, EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS

Enjoy today’s videos!

Legged robots have the potential to become vital in maintenance, home support, and exploration scenarios. In order to interact with and manipulate their environments, most legged robots are equipped with a dedicated robot arm, which means additional mass and mechanical complexity compared to standard legged robots. In this work, we explore pedipulation—using the legs of a legged robot for manipulation.

This work, by Philip Arm, Mayank Mittal, Hendrik Kolvenbach, and Marco Hutter from ETHZ RSL, will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2024) in May in Japan (see events calendar above).

[ Pedipulate ]

I learned a new word today! “Stigmergy.” Stigmergy is a kind of group coordination that’s based on environmental modification. Like, when insects leave pheromone trails, they’re not directly sending messages to other individuals, but as a group the ants are able to manifest surprisingly complex coordinated behaviors. Cool, right? Researchers are IRIDIA are exploring the possibilities for robots using stigmergy with a cool ‘artificial pheromone’ system using a UV-sensitive surface.

“Automatic design of stigmergy-based behaviors for robot swarms,” by Muhammad Salman, David Garzón Ramos, and Mauro Birattari, is published in the journal Communications Engineering.

[ Nature ] via [ IRIDIA ]

Thanks, David!

Filmed in July 2017, this video shows Atlas walking through a “hatch” on a pitching surface. This uses autonomous behaviors, with the robot not knowing about the rocking world. Robot built by Boston Dynamics for the DARPA Robotics Challenge in 2013. Software by IHMC Robotics.

[ IHMC ]

That IHMC video reminded me of the SAFFiR program for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robots, which is responsible for a bunch of really cool research in partnership with the United States Naval Research Laboratory. NRL did some interesting stuff with Nexi robots from MIT and made their own videos. That effort I think didn’t get nearly enough credit for being very entertaining while communicating important robotics research.

[ NRL ]

I want more robot videos with this energy.


Large industrial asset operators increasingly use robotics to automate hazardous work at their facilities. This has led to soaring demand for autonomous inspection solutions like ANYmal. Series production by our partner Zollner enables ANYbotics to supply our customers with the required quantities of robots.

[ ANYbotics ]

This week is Grain Bin Safety Week, and Grain Weevil is here to help.

[ Grain Weevil ]

Oof, this is some heavy, heavy deep-time stuff.

[ Onkalo ]

And now, this.

[ RozenZebet ]

Hawkeye is a real time multimodal conversation and interaction agent for the Boston Dynamics’ mobile robot Spot. Leveraging OpenAI’s experimental GPT-4 Turbo and Vision AI models, Hawkeye aims to empower everyone, from seniors to healthcare professionals in forming new and unique interactions with the world around them.

That moment at 1:07 is so relatable.

[ Hawkeye ]

Wing would really prefer that if you find one of their drones on the ground, you don’t run off with it.

[ Wing ]

The rover Artemis, developed at the DFKI Robotics Innovation Center, has been equipped with a penetrometer that measures the soil’s penetration resistance to obtain precise information about soil strength. The video showcases an initial test run with the device mounted on the robot. During this test, the robot was remotely controlled, and the maximum penetration depth was limited to 15 mm.

[ DFKI ]

To efficiently achieve complex humanoid loco-manipulation tasks in industrial contexts, we propose a combined vision-based tracker-localization interplay integrated as part of a task-space whole-body optimization control. Our approach allows humanoid robots, targeted for industrial manufacturing, to manipulate and assemble large-scale objects while walking.

[ Paper ]

We developed a novel multi-body robot (called the Two-Body Bot) consisting of two small-footprint mobile bases connected by a four bar linkage where handlebars are mounted. Each base measures only 29.2 cm wide, making the robot likely the slimmest ever developed for mobile postural assistance.

[ MIT ]

Lex Fridman interviews Marc Raibert.

[ Lex Fridman ]

Source: IEEE Spectrum Robotics