I like robots so, every now and then, I like to post a couple of links and videos to cool stuff I have been gathering over the previous weeks/months. This time the list is very long, basically because I barely post here anymore (way too busy with work, other hobbies I am starting and also busy with someone that makes me very happy), so I am making a selection.

  • First of all, something I got from the IEEE Spectrum Magazine Robotics section: Firefighting robots.

Firefighting robots have been a hot topic recently, and the U.S. Navy seems particularly interested in getting shipboard robots to be able to help humans deal with flaming emergencies. They’ve already commissioned their own custom humanoid, but until that’s ready to go, they’re teaching Octavia how to team up with humans to find (and extinguish) real fires.

The focus of this project is less about the actual fire extinguishing, and more about how Octavia interacts with a human partner to get to that point. She’s already a pro with a fancy Macaw Compressed Air Foam anti-fire cannon, but she has to learn how to track a person, identify them, understand what they say, understand any gestures they make, recognize a fire when she sees one, and then accurately and efficiently put it out. Not a simple process, to be sure, but she seems to have it down, and notice in this video how her facial expressions communicate what she’s thinking to her human partner.

  • If Lemmings had a robot to help them do their job, they would have this. A robot able to build a ramp that it can then climb to reach a higher ground. You just need to place a Lemming right behind the robot stopping the rest of the Lemmings, waiting for the ramp to be done. Then, if you are a newbie, you would sacrifice that poor Lemming. If you are a skilled Lemming player, though, you would dig a little whole under it to “recover” it.
  • A baby on wheels; or how to train a baby to control a moving platform. This looks useless to me and I would rather have a baby to learn how to crawl or walk to me to reach for a toy but there must be a good motivation behind this project.
  • Curiosity rover. The first robot you can follow on Twitter. Check out what he is up to.
  • Nano quadrotor swarm experiments going on and showing really cool advances. Every time I see these guys I think of the book Prey by Michael Crichton. I highly recommend it!