The Robotics Roundup is a weekly newspost going over some of the most exciting developments in robotics over the past week.
In today’s edition we have:
- This robot can tidy a room without any help
- Avocado robot swings from trees to gather canopy data
- With Its New Software, Niryo Promises to Make Cobotics Accessible
- Amazon left Roomba with a huge mess to clean up
- Boston Dynamics robot demo for CBS mornings
Researchers from New York University and Meta have developed a system called OK-Robot, which uses open-source AI models to train robots to perform tasks in unfamiliar environments without additional expensive training. Using a commercially available robot called Stretch in 10 rooms across five homes, the researchers used an app called Record3D to scan the room and share a 3D video with the robot. The AI then identified objects and locations in the room, enabling the robot to pick up and move specified items, with a success rate of 58.5%, rising to 82% in less cluttered spaces. The system has limitations, such as inability to problem-solve when it can’t find an object. However, its use of open-source models could potentially revolutionize the field of robotics, making tasks in home environments a real possibility.
Swiss researchers from ETH Zurich’s Environmental Robotics lab have developed a prototype of an environmental monitoring robot named Avocado for data collection from inaccessible treetop areas. The robot, inspired by abseiling spiders, uses a winch, rotors, and a battery-powered servo to lower itself through the tree canopy, bypassing obstacles using an onboard camera and propellers. The design of Avocado offers an advantage over flying drones or climbing bots by avoiding getting entangled in thick foliage or slipping on branches. The robot, which can carry various instruments like environmental sensors or sample collectors, has undergone lab testing and outdoor testing on a tree. Future plans for Avocado include solar-powered missions and drone deployment. The project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, is among the finalists in the XPrize Rainforest competition.
Niryo, a French robotics company, is launching Niryo Studio, a platform designed to democratize access to robotics and simplify their programming, particularly for cobots like their NED2 model. Niryo Studio represents a significant advancement in simplifying the coding process through its integrated Python IDE. It allows control of the robot at various levels of expertise, from novices using freemotion buttons and block systems to experts coding directly in Python. The platform also offers features such as 3D visualization of connected components, precise robot position adjustment, and the ability to save, modify, and replay programs. This innovation aims to make robotics more accessible and revolutionize work, much like the impact of laptops in the computer industry.
iRobot, the company behind the Roomba robot vacuum, is facing financial difficulties after Amazon abandoned its deal to buy the company due to regulatory issues. iRobot’s market share has been deteriorating since 2014 due to intense competition from cheaper alternatives from companies like Ecovacs, Anker, Roborock, and Dreame Technology. The failure of the Amazon deal has led to a loss of resources and financial support, resulting in staff layoffs and the exit of CEO Colin Angle. The company, known for its substantial advancements in home robotics, is now grappling with a net loss for 2022 and forecasting an operating loss of up to $285 million in 2023, potentially needing external financing to survive. iRobot’s future could have iRobot trailing behind its competitors as they innovate rapidly and continue to gain market share.
Boston Dynamics CEO, Robert Playter, demonstrated two of the company’s most advanced robots, Spot and Atlas, to Michelle Miller, co-host of “CBS Saturday Morning.”