As we bask in the warmest February on record and into sunny March it may be hard to remember that just one short year ago snow was ravaging Englands green and pleasant land as the "Beast from the East" descended. ORI, being the excellent planners and weather forecasters that we are, were abroad in Iceland for one of the most ambitious trials of the last several years. Within the space of the first two months of the year we built and commissioned a sensor rig that was specifically designed to fit on top of a modified Toyota Hilux truck. These are designed and built by our partner company Arctic Trucks for driving on the rugged Icelandic terrain. Everything was ready for us to go and capture a foul weather dataset in the rough terrain and wild weather of Iceland; [...]

CDT Week at ORI

Last week (commencing 4th March 2019) the CDT DPhil students returned to ORI for their second instalment of their robotics taster weeks supported by a team of second year PhD students from Mobile Robotics (MRG) and Applied Artificial Intelligence (A2I) groups. The Students were presented with a small wheeled robot on Monday morning, the teams undertook the challenging task of achieving autonomy by the end of the week. On the Friday, the robots were put head to head, navigating a course of obstacles, detecting a target and returning to the starting position in the shortest time possible. The results, were mixed to say the least! One thing that was not mixed however, was the unanimous team spirit and determination to get things running on real world robots, themes that characterise much of what we do here at ORI! WATCH [...]

DPhil students study Dynamic Robot Locomotion

16 first year DPhil students from the AIMS CDT spent a week at ORI studying Dynamic Locomotion led by students from the Dynamic Robot Systems Group (DRS). The hands on course was focused around the ANYmal robot (from ANYbotics) and its simulator. After a series of introductory lectures to ROS and research topics such as motion planning and state estimation, the task was to program the (simulated) robot to the end of a course using terrain reconstruction, path planning and locomotion control which demonstrated the challenges of closed loop robot autonomy as well as encouraging the students to form teams and to code collaboratively. Introductory Demo The final race, showing two teams side by side. The winning team with their prestigious trophies.    

Betty at Blenheim Palace

Betty is a mobile service robot from the Oxford Robotics Institute. She has been extensively used the GOALS group to demonstrate long-term autonomous behaviour in real-world dynamic environments. Her software was originally developed by a European consortium as part of the STRANDS Project. In that project Betty and her fellow robots were deployed for security, care, and office management tasks. For a week starting in January 2019 Betty’s latest adventure was to meet visitors at Blenheim Palace. At Blenheim she roamed around the entrance hall to the palace, providing information to visitors about the palace and estate. She would was also able to post pictures of visitors to her Twitter account, @BettyStrands, a functionality which provided much excitement to some visitors. Betty’s reception at Blenheim was overwhelmingly positive. Visitors young and old were [...]

ANYmal goes underground – European Project ‘THING’

Benoit Casseau, Marco Camurri and David Wisth visited Zurich for a meeting of the European project THING (subTerranean Haptic INvestiGator). In a nutshell this project aims to develop new feet for the ANYmal robot to enhance it's mobility and to perceive terrain properties. In comparison to the current feet, the new ones have sensors that can provide information on the friction coefficient of the terrain and its geometry. They are flexible so that they can adapt their shape to that of the terrain, thus the surface of contact between the new feet and the ground is better than with the normal feet. This should lead to less slippage while walking. With this new feature the Anymal should be able to traverse  hazardous, slippery, rocky and wet environments. The new feet, designed by the University of Pisa, [...]

ORCA Demo – October 2018

Oxford Robotics Institute is part of two Research Hubs which focus on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) that can be deployed in extreme environments. The hubs, both funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, are ORCA, targeting applications for the offshore oil and gas industry, and RAIN, targeting applications in the nuclear industry. Central to these hubs is the translation of research results into industry-led use cases, and, more generally, the transfer of advanced robotics and AI knowledge into UK industry. As part of this agenda, on 29th October 2018 ORI helped lead a demonstration day for the ORCA Hub at the Fire Service College in Gloucestershire. The site hosts a number of test sites,  usually used to train fire fighters, but for [...]