Recently, I’ve taken on a full-time gig with DTE, using ROS to fire lasers into metals (I’m never getting bored of this job description). I’m still getting used to not doing ten different things in a day, but I’m getting there. The exercises in focus already gave me a needed push for thinking about the future of this newsletter, and I’m excited about what’s coming! I have shared some first insights on the WR Slack for supporters, and I’ll be looking forward to sharing more information here once the first results are in! As usual, the publication of the week section is manned by Rodrigo. Last week’s most clicked link was the ad for my ROS 2 liveProject, with 12.6% opens.
Weekly Robotics is being developed thanks to the Patreon supporters and the following business sponsors:
Pinpoint, 250 fps, ROS 2 Localization with vSLAM on NVIDIA Jetson
NVIDIA® Isaac ROS is a collection of hardware accelerated packages that make it easier for ROS 2 developers to build high-performance robotics solutions. In this first Isaac ROS webinar by Raffaello Bonghi, you’ll learn how to use Isaac ROS Visual SLAM for mapping and robot navigation.
I Built a Mini Mars Rover
Nikodem Bartnik created a small Mars rover with Rpi Pico for brains. I like Nikodem’s approach to making as many things as possible himself. Some parts of the system are on GitHub. These are probably relatively early days for Nikodem’s idea of an Open Robotics Platform, but the concept of simple platforms for prototyping sounds very promising! I hope we see some more builds soon!
OpenLander is a “Free-to-use ground-level obstacle-detection segmentation AI for UAV which you can deploy today using cheap off-the-shelf sensors from Luxonis”. If you have a use case for the emergency landing of your multirotors, consider giving this approach a go. You will reduce the chances of landing on powerlines.
FarmVibes.AI: Multi-Modal GeoSpatial ML Models for Agriculture and Sustainability
This one is not strictly related to robotics, but I see how these newly open-sourced models from Microsoft could be used for some agricultural robotics applications.
How to Effectively Record Robot Data for Visibility and Debugging
David from Polymath Robotics wrote a neat in-depth article on Polymath’s approach to logging data with multiple levels of granularity. The team used Prometheus for storing metrics and Grafana for visualizations. For only storing relevant data, they used rosbag_snapshot to create a buffer of messages of interest. You can see the implementation of this work in the event_recording package the company open-sourced.
LEGO is Discontinuing MINDSTORMS at the End of 2022
The word on the street is LEGO will drop the popular sets for robotics education in favor of others that support “Build & Code” concepts, such as Spike. It’s a shame because MINDSTORMs were great for introducing kids to robotics, so I hope my potential future offspring get to build robots with LEGO!
Trouble in (L4) Paradise
Lately, we’ve seen lots of critique of Level-4 self-driving developments, starting with the Bloomberg piece Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere , which was published on the 6th of October, a week after Crunchbase published their analysis of self-driving tech: Self-Driving Tech Startups Are Driving Off A Cliff On Public Markets.
Last week, a news story broke about Argo AI shutting down. The company that Ford and VW largely backed employed over 2,000 employees and raised more than $2.6 billion since 2017. We’ve also learned that Tesla Faces US Criminal Probe Around Self-Driving Claims.
In the wake of the news about Argo AI, two pieces caught my attention; TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington says that it’s time to admit self-driving cars aren’t going to happen, while the CEO of Aurora shared in the company’s newsletter the following:
But I also want to be clear that this is not a signal that a future with self-driving technology isn’t real or imminent. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Waymo recently announced the expansion of their robotaxi fleet to LA. Cruise is charging for their driverless robotaxi rides in San Francisco.
Today it feels like self-driving reached the Trough of Disillusionment of the Gartner hype cycle. Now, it’s time to move to the Plateau of Productivity. Let’s go!
Publication of the Week - Can Quadruped Navigation Robots be Used as Guide Dogs? (2022)
There is evidence that visually impaired (VI) people used guide dogs as far back as the mid-16th century. This paper presents a Xiaomi bionic quadruped and a custom-made wheeled robot, both equipped with a guide harness to replace a guide dog for VI subjects. Twenty-three subjects tested the robots in indoor and outdoor environments. The results show that the walking noise produced by the quadrupedal robot could disturb conversations and even the surrounding hearing feedback, that is important for the blind. Also, the wheeled robot is better at sending ground feedback, as they are more sensitive to ground variations. For now, a lot of work still needs to be done, and guide dogs don’t need to be concerned with robots replacing them.
THINK Surgical Brings in $100M
“THINK Surgical, a developer of active robotics for knee replacement surgeries, announced that it brought in a $100 million investment from KDB Investment Global Healthcare of Korea, a new investor in the company”.