Robotics

In photos: Rascally robots and kindred contraptions, at ICRA 2019

In photos: Rascally robots and...
The SVH robotic gripping hand, from German company Schunk – it's designed mainly for use by robotics researchers, and closely mimics the dexterity and joint structure of a real human hand
The SVH robotic gripping hand, from German company Schunk – it's designed mainly for use by robotics researchers, and closely mimics the dexterity and joint structure of a real human hand
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Available as an assemble-it-yourself kit, this machine from HEBI Robotics uses 14 interconnected actuators that control position, torque and velocity, allowing the robot to self-balance itself on two wheels 
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Available as an assemble-it-yourself kit, this machine from HEBI Robotics uses 14 interconnected actuators that control position, torque and velocity, allowing the robot to self-balance itself on two wheels 
Kinova's Movo robot has two articulated arms, a wheeled base, a telescoping torso and sensors including LiDAR and a Kinect camera – it's designed for use in robotics research
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Kinova's Movo robot has two articulated arms, a wheeled base, a telescoping torso and sensors including LiDAR and a Kinect camera – it's designed for use in robotics research
Mecademic's Meca500 is reportedly the world's smallest commercially-available industrial robotic arm – it's designed for tasks such as the manufacturing of electronics and medical devices
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Mecademic's Meca500 is reportedly the world's smallest commercially-available industrial robotic arm – it's designed for tasks such as the manufacturing of electronics and medical devices
Clearpath Robotics' Warthog is an amphibious and autonomous all-terrain vehicle, capable of moving through the water at speeds of up to 4 km/h (2.5 mph)
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Clearpath Robotics' Warthog is an amphibious and autonomous all-terrain vehicle, capable of moving through the water at speeds of up to 4 km/h (2.5 mph)
A da Vinci robotic surgical system, equipped with the ARssist augmented reality system 
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A da Vinci robotic surgical system, equipped with the ARssist augmented reality system 
The bipedal CogIMon robot, developed over four years in a partnership between eight European/UK research institutes – no, we didn't get to see it walk
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The bipedal CogIMon robot, developed over four years in a partnership between eight European/UK research institutes – no, we didn't get to see it walk
China Robotics' Roger multi-purpose robot hand – by concentrating on software- as opposed to hardware-based functionality, it sells for just US$4,980
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China Robotics' Roger multi-purpose robot hand – by concentrating on software- as opposed to hardware-based functionality, it sells for just US$4,980
Quebec's Sherbrooke University was demoing this force-feedback system, used to control the onscreen action in a fantasy video game
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Quebec's Sherbrooke University was demoing this force-feedback system, used to control the onscreen action in a fantasy video game
This third arm, developed at Sherbrooke University, can be used either as a robotic body-mounted grasping arm, or as an exoskeleton-type support for the wearer's own arm
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This third arm, developed at Sherbrooke University, can be used either as a robotic body-mounted grasping arm, or as an exoskeleton-type support for the wearer's own arm
The qb SoftHand, from Italy's qb Robotics, replicates a human hand in 1:1 scale and incorporates 19 self-healing finger joints along with one motor – it's used on prosthetic arms, in robotics research, and on industrial robotic arms
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The qb SoftHand, from Italy's qb Robotics, replicates a human hand in 1:1 scale and incorporates 19 self-healing finger joints along with one motor – it's used on prosthetic arms, in robotics research, and on industrial robotic arms
Shadow Robotics' Shadow Dextrous Hand E Series is capable of 24 movements, and features 129 sensors throughout the hand which track factors such as position, force, pressure and touch – it can also copy the movements of a user-worn CyberGlove
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Shadow Robotics' Shadow Dextrous Hand E Series is capable of 24 movements, and features 129 sensors throughout the hand which track factors such as position, force, pressure and touch – it can also copy the movements of a user-worn CyberGlove
Hydro-Quebec's LineRanger robot gets hoisted up onto high-voltage power transmission lines, which it proceeds to scoot along while performing  inspections with its camera and other sensors 
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Hydro-Quebec's LineRanger robot gets hoisted up onto high-voltage power transmission lines, which it proceeds to scoot along while performing  inspections with its camera and other sensors 
Independent Robotics' Aqua 2 can operate autonomously or by remote control, using its flipper-like legs to both move across the land and swim underwater – among other things, it could be used for marine environmental monitoring 
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Independent Robotics' Aqua 2 can operate autonomously or by remote control, using its flipper-like legs to both move across the land and swim underwater – among other things, it could be used for marine environmental monitoring 
The Vogi drone, from Toronto-based startup Coriolis g, has four quadcopter-type propellers that sit horizontal for vertical take-offs and landings, but then swing into a vertical position for more efficient fixed-wing forward flight 
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The Vogi drone, from Toronto-based startup Coriolis g, has four quadcopter-type propellers that sit horizontal for vertical take-offs and landings, but then swing into a vertical position for more efficient fixed-wing forward flight 
Tokyo's Amoeba Energy was demonstrating this soft-bodied robot prototype, that uses soft foam tracks to easily climb stairs – its commercial successor may someday be used for deliveries
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Tokyo's Amoeba Energy was demonstrating this soft-bodied robot prototype, that uses soft foam tracks to easily climb stairs – its commercial successor may someday be used for deliveries
This is the Spidar-G II, from Japan's Nihon Binary – it's a haptic control device that utilizes wires, pulleys and DC motors to "read" the user's hand movements, allowing them to manipulate virtual objects or remotely operate robotic hands
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This is the Spidar-G II, from Japan's Nihon Binary – it's a haptic control device that utilizes wires, pulleys and DC motors to "read" the user's hand movements, allowing them to manipulate virtual objects or remotely operate robotic hands
The SVH robotic gripping hand, from German company Schunk – it's designed mainly for use by robotics researchers, and closely mimics the dexterity and joint structure of a real human hand
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The SVH robotic gripping hand, from German company Schunk – it's designed mainly for use by robotics researchers, and closely mimics the dexterity and joint structure of a real human hand
The wheeled and two-armed Prombot Concierge, from Canada's Promorobots, is capable of interacting with users via face recognition technology – it's intended for use in settings such as large stores or museums
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The wheeled and two-armed Prombot Concierge, from Canada's Promorobots, is capable of interacting with users via face recognition technology – it's intended for use in settings such as large stores or museums
Norway's Halodi Robotics was showing off EVE r3, a wheeled humanoid robot that's already being presold to robotics developers – a simplified, less expensive subsequent model may find use caring for the elderly in their own homes
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Norway's Halodi Robotics was showing off EVE r3, a wheeled humanoid robot that's already being presold to robotics developers – a simplified, less expensive subsequent model may find use caring for the elderly in their own homes
Chinese drone manufacturer DJI had this sensor-packed robotic vehicle on hand, which uses omnidirectional wheels to move either forward/backward or from side to side – it's being used by teams in the RoboMaster robotics challenge
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Chinese drone manufacturer DJI had this sensor-packed robotic vehicle on hand, which uses omnidirectional wheels to move either forward/backward or from side to side – it's being used by teams in the RoboMaster robotics challenge
Clearpath Robotic's Heron USV is an aquatic drone which is propelled across the water by two battery-powered jet thrusters located in each of its pontoons – it can autonomously perform tasks such as taking depth measurements or drawing water samples
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Clearpath Robotic's Heron USV is an aquatic drone which is propelled across the water by two battery-powered jet thrusters located in each of its pontoons – it can autonomously perform tasks such as taking depth measurements or drawing water samples
This arm-equipped Boxer Indoor Mobile Robot was autonomously wandering the exhibit hall floor at ICRA 2019 – it can run for up to 12 hours, carrying a maximum payload of 100 kg (220 lb) and travelling at speeds of up to 2 meters per second (4.5 mph) 
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This arm-equipped Boxer Indoor Mobile Robot was autonomously wandering the exhibit hall floor at ICRA 2019 – it can run for up to 12 hours, carrying a maximum payload of 100 kg (220 lb) and travelling at speeds of up to 2 meters per second (4.5 mph) 
Lebanese artist Guillaume Credoz is responsible for The Obsessive Drafter, a robotic art installation that draws portraits of people it encounters 
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Lebanese artist Guillaume Credoz is responsible for The Obsessive Drafter, a robotic art installation that draws portraits of people it encounters 
Quanser Lab Solutions was demonstrating this system, in which a ground-based QBot transmits its location to a quadcopter drone that follows along above it – it's a small-scale demo of a system that could be used in the military
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Quanser Lab Solutions was demonstrating this system, in which a ground-based QBot transmits its location to a quadcopter drone that follows along above it – it's a small-scale demo of a system that could be used in the military
This eery, continually-moving sculpture hung from the ceiling – it's hard to see, but it has lights on the ends of its arms
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This eery, continually-moving sculpture hung from the ceiling – it's hard to see, but it has lights on the ends of its arms
A self-balancing biped robot, from HEBI Robotics
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A self-balancing biped robot, from HEBI Robotics
Boston Dynamics brought its quadruped SpotMini to the show, and took it out to prance around the exhibit hall
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Boston Dynamics brought its quadruped SpotMini to the show, and took it out to prance around the exhibit hall
Similar to Boston Dynamics' SpotMini, Unitree Robotics' Laikago is a quadruped robot that you can already buy – it's reportedly able to scuttle around for up to four hours on one charge of its 50.4-volt/13,000-mAh lithium battery pack, and can carry as much as 7 kg (15 lb) of cargo at a top speed of 0.8 meters (2.6 ft) per second
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Similar to Boston Dynamics' SpotMini, Unitree Robotics' Laikago is a quadruped robot that you can already buy – it's reportedly able to scuttle around for up to four hours on one charge of its 50.4-volt/13,000-mAh lithium battery pack, and can carry as much as 7 kg (15 lb) of cargo at a top speed of 0.8 meters (2.6 ft) per second
This telepresence robot from OhmniLabs is able to visually lock onto the faces of people who interact with it, and then physically follow them by tracking where their faces go
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This telepresence robot from OhmniLabs is able to visually lock onto the faces of people who interact with it, and then physically follow them by tracking where their faces go
The Anymal quadruped robot was originally created at Switzerland's ETH Zurich research institute, but is now being commercialized by spinoff company ANYbotics 
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The Anymal quadruped robot was originally created at Switzerland's ETH Zurich research institute, but is now being commercialized by spinoff company ANYbotics 

If you've perused our website over the past several days, then you're doubtless aware that we attended the International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week in Montreal. It was a fantastic event, and we're pleased to now present with you with what we think were the highlights of the show.

According to Prof. Greg Dudek, General Chair of ICRA 2019, approximately 75 people attended the conference when it was first held in 1985. With over 4,000 participants attending this time around, however, he says it was officially the largest robotics show to ever take place.

Among the various things we noticed was the fact that a lot of the robots were designed not so much to go out into the workforce, but instead to be used as platforms by scientists performing robotics research. Dudek additionally had some thoughts of his own on trends at the show.

"The hot thing now is combining machine learning, where you learn straight from data, with classic approaches where you hand-code things," he told us. "Initially, everything was hand-coded physics and engineering, and then we went to pure learning, and now we're seeing learning incorporate the classic methods, so you get guarantees on performance combined with adaptivity."

Dudek also noted that there were a lot of soft robotics on display, along with adaptive robots designed to interact directly with humans.

You can see some of those technologies, along with plenty of other nifty robots and related gadgets, by proceeding on to the photo gallery.

Conference website: ICRA 2019

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