Video Friday: Biological End Effectors

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA
IROS 2023: 1–5 October 2023, DETROIT
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
Humanoids 2023: 12–14 December 2023, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Enjoy today’s videos!

Biology has the best grippers, hands-down. Even when it’s not hands.

And look at this cute lil guy!


RoboCat is a self-improving AI agent for robotics that learns to perform a variety of tasks across different arms, and then self-generates new training data to improve its technique.

[Deep Mind]

uMobileLab is a mobile and versatile collaborative lab automation solution that integrates seamlessly into existing lab workflows. It increases efficiency during workload fluctuations and enables the efficient completion of tasks, while navigating safely in various lab settings and environments.

You know it’s a robot that does science, because it wears glasses.

[United Robotics]

The most interesting video is right at the end, where this collision-tolerant quadrotor starts pushing a big box around.


New work from Carnegie Mellon University has enabled robots to learn household chores by watching videos of people performing everyday tasks in their homes. The research could help improve the utility of robots in the home, allowing them to assist people with tasks like cooking and cleaning. Two robots successfully learned 12 tasks including opening a drawer, oven door and lid; taking a pot off the stove; and picking up a telephone, vegetable or can of soup.


The objective of the HomeRobot: Open Vocabulary Mobile Manipulation (OVMM) Challenge is to create a platform that enables researchers to develop agents that can navigate unfamiliar environments, manipulate novel objects, and move away from closed object classes towards open-vocabulary natural language. This challenge aims to facilitate cross-cutting research in embodied AI using recent advances in machine learning, computer vision, natural language, and robotics.

The winner will receive their own Stretch robot!


Thanks, Aaron!

Aerial deployment and retrieval of a twin-arm manipulator that resembles a human being were successfully demonstrated in order to carry out the installation of specialized bird flight diverters on a real power line.


Whether intentional or not, this is pretty hilarious.

[Engineered Arts]

Sanctuary’s robot is ready for preschool. Sounds like a slight, but it’s really not, for a robot.


This wheelchair tennis-playing robot from Georgia Tech is named ESTHER, for (Experimental Sport Tennis wHEelchair Robot). It’s a stretch, but it gets a pass since it was named after arguably the greatest wheelchair tennis player, Esther Vergeer.

[Georgia Tech]

This video is not that impressive, but I still really like the concept behind these squishy robots.

[Squishy Robotics]