Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Living organisms intertwine soft (e.g., muscle) and hard (e.g., bones) materials, giving them an intrinsic flexibility and resiliency often lacking in conventional rigid robots. The emerging field of soft robotics seeks to harness these same properties in order to create resilient machines.

The nature of soft materials, however, presents considerable challenges to aspects of design, construction, and control — and up until now, the vast majority of gaits for soft robots have been hand-designed through empirical trial-and-error. This manuscript describes an easy-to-assemble tensegrity-based soft robot capable of highly dynamic locomotive gaits and demonstrating structural and behavioral resilience in the face of physical damage.

Enabling this is the use of a machine learning algorithm able to discover novel gaits with a minimal number of physical trials. These results lend further credence to soft-robotic approaches that seek to harness the interaction of complex material dynamics in order to generate a wealth of dynamical behaviors.

One of my favorite RoboCup events is when a team of mediocre humans goes up against the mid-size robots: Okay, the humans were a bit better perhaps. But they weren’t THAT much better. Read more from spectrum.ieee.org…

thumbnail courtesy of ieee.org