In a cold, wet week at the beginning of October, a team from Oxford Robotics Institute headed north to Blyth, near Newcastle, for the ORCA Hub demonstrations. A large warehouse, normally used for testing off-shore wind turbines, hosted teams from a number of different universities, all keen to demonstrate their advances in research in the last 12 months. The ORCA Robotics Hub is funded by the UK's Industry Strategic Challenge Fund (ISCF) to develop industrially relevant robotics and AI for extreme environments, specifically the offshore energy domain. The trials were attended by over 50 industrial partners from across the offshore industry. Our team had three demonstrations. An autonomous inspection mission had ANYmal follow a pre-determined route through the facility, using the on-board cameras, LIDAR and thermal cameras to survey a series of dials and targets of interest. This autonomous [...]
DARPA SubT Challenge Marco Camurri describes his recent trip to the DARPA SubT Challenge On Aug 15th to 22nd, 11 teams from all around the world gathered in Pittsburgh for the Tunnel Circuit of the DARPA SubT Challenge, an international robotics competition dedicated to autonomous underground exploration. Each team had to locate a series of artifacts inside a former mine network, without human intervention or prior knowledge of the environment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EMMCPQJeOE The teams have developed novel approaches to rapidly map, explore and search underground environments in time-sensitive operations critical for the civilian and military domains alike. There were no limitations on type, number of size of robots to be deployed, and we saw lots of creative solutions, including a blimp! The Tunnel Circuit was the first of three Challenge events before the Finals in August 2021, [...]
We are pleased to announce the release of the Oxford Radar RobotCar Dataset, a radar extension to the Oxford RobotCar Dataset. This dataset provides Millimetre-Wave radar data, dual velodyne lidars, and optimised ground truth odometry for 280 km of driving around Oxford, UK (in addition to all sensors in the original Oxford RobotCar Dataset). We intend that this dataset will help accelerate research with this interesting sensor which is robust to challenging conditions that may trouble other modalities. For more information and to sign up to use the dataset, please visit the Oxford Radar RobotCar Dataset. Please also take a look at the paper which provides full documentation for this dataset: The Oxford Radar RobotCar Dataset: A Radar Extension to the Oxford RobotCar Dataset.
At the start of July, the ORI’s competition team, Team ORIon, took part in it’s first RoboCup. RoboCup is an annual international robotics competition with the aim of promoting robotics and AI research and pushing the boundaries of scientific research. This year the event was held in Sydney, Australia and there were 13 different leagues with teams from many different countries, making it one of the biggest robotics events in the world. An almost complete team photo before leaving for Sydney. The team previously competed at the World Robot Summit in October and has since expanded it’s membership to include post-docs, PhD students and undergraduate students who have worked tirelessly over the past few months on further developing and testing their Toyota Human Support Robot (HSR) in order to perform at the event. https://twitter.com/TeamORIon7/status/1145667936364875777 Team ORIon sent nine [...]
Last week a group from ORI attended the Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS) 2019 Conference. The conference this year was held at the newly build Mile End campus of the Queen Mary University of London. Many interesting papers were presented and TAROS this year had an excellent set of keynote talks delivered from leading researchers from industry and academia. ORI’s Dr. Mathieu Geisert was awarded the Best Paper Award for the paper ‘Contact Planning for the ANYmal Quadruped Robot using an Acyclic Reachability-Based Planner', by M. Geisert, T. Yates, A. Orgen, P. Fernbach, and I. Havoutis. The paper develops a contact and motion planning approach for the ANYmal quadruped. This is increasingly important for environments where the robot needs to explicitly plan footholds, a common theme in everyday environments (stairs, steps, obstacles to step over, etc) built for humans and [...]
This week Oxford Robotics were visited by Stratasys, the 3D printing experts, to install their state-of-the-art J735 printer - an essential research tool for the Soft Robotics Lab. It's "the best polyjet multi material 3D printer on the market", according to Perla Maiolino, head of the Soft Robotics Lab: "This printer can print a wider range of materials and colours with horizontal build layers down to 14 microns. The ability to mix materials together allows us to get desired mechanical properties and colours for any object." Stratasys brought a couple of example pieces with them to demonstrate the potential for life-like colour, variable stiffness parts, and internal channels. The results were certainly impressive! The new multi-material 3D printer is an important piece of research equipment for the Soft Robotics Lab, allowing soft robots to be designed and manufactured with [...]