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Grippers On The Robot!

In more student work, our own Eric Rosen created a song and dance for our robots to better communicate with children. Check it out below!

Understanding the basic capabilities of robots will be important for everyone when they are integrated into our every day lives. Without this knowledge, human-robot interactions will be poor not only due to the inability to best utilize each agent’s skills, but may even lead people to fear what they don’t understand. There are many things that are scary when we first encounter them as young children, but become less so as we become accustomed to them. Educators use songs and dances in order to engage young students in a fun way to learn about common day things they will encounter in their life, such as the wheels on a bus. But what song and dance can you do with your child to teach them about robots?

We at the H2R lab made our own child-robot-song-and-dance, “The Grippers on the Robot” (Sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”). Anyone can sing along and dance with Baxter through 3 preprogrammed dance sequences: The Grippers on the Robot go open and close; The servos on the robot go roll, pitch, yaw; The IK on the robot goes plan plan plan. This allows for young children to have a fun experience with a robot, and even start to understand how a robot navigates and manipulates the world!

If you want to let people dance and sing with your Baxter, check out the code on the github link or email me,!

Baxter Bowling!

This summer, we had some great high school students work on projects involving our robots. Anisha Agarwal was one of those students. She built a bowling routine for Baxter. Here is here project!

With the ability to pick and place objects comes a surprising amount of power. Picking up objects and placing them down is the basis for setting a table, drawing, building block structures, playing numerous games and more. We decided to use this power to teach Baxter how to bowl. The bowling program sets up bowling pins and knocks them down by rolling a ball towards them. Baxter sets up 3 bowling pins from the home area into an area on the other end of the table. Baxter also picks up a “bowling” ball (although, for our purposes, a golf ball worked better), swings its arm and releases the ball towards the upright pins.

Occasionally, Baxter accidentally knocks down a pin in its attempt to place another one nearby. Also, a very specific gripper setting is necessary, such that the grippers are wide enough for the ball, but slim enough to grasp the thinnest portion of the bowling pins. Also, since all 3 pins and the bowling ball are presented to Baxter at once, it can be difficult to arrange them so they aren’t close enough together to confuse the robot, but also not so far apart that certain pieces are outside of the range where the arm can reach.

Despite these limitations, it’s exciting to watch Baxter setting up and knocking down pins!

Amazon Echo + ROS + Baxter

Hey! So here’s a cool video of us using an Amazon Echo to control one of our Baxters. The Echo definitely outperforms our previous speech-to-text methods, and we like using it.

If you’re interested in finding out about how we did it, check the code here, or shoot me an email at