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Reminder: One Reason Why Robotics Is Very, Very Important

We've been posting a lot recently about military robotics, and having discussions about whether or not we should be scared of robots with weapons. One of the points that I made was that whatever we think of the military's pronounced interest in robots, it does end up paying for all kinds of things, and here is one amazing example that's funded by DARPA (among others): a 7 DoF brain-controlled robotic arm and hand that has allowed this woman take a bite of chocolate unassisted for the first time in a decade.

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2012 Robot Gift Guide

'Holiday Robots' by Aimee Wilder; buy her fantastic artwork here.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, this season is all about family gettin' stuff from other people. Unfortunately, we don't usually get to decide what stuff that is. So if you want a robot, you have two options: option one is to send this gift guide to everyone you know with your top three choices highlighted and dire threats upon receipt of anything else. Option two is to use the guide yourself, buy whatever robot(s) you want for the least appropriate member of your immediate family, and then offer to "help" them with it.

In either case, we've put together this list of twelve robots that any serious (or not so) roboticist would love to add to their collection. Enjoy!

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Video Friday: Hubo and Valves, UAVs and Lasers, and One Very Lucky Parrot

Yes. It's Friday again. You've made it to the end of yet another week, and that's earned you a Video Friday that's all about robots. We know, if it wasn't for Video Friday, you'd just give up on your job and your friends and your family and move to Mongolia, where you'd spend your time designing robots out of twigs and grass that can operate on nothing more than the pungent power of fermented yak's milk. As much as we love Mongolia (and we really do love Mongolia), we wouldn't want that to happen to you, which is why we provide Video Friday as a service to your sanity and well-being. No need to thank us, it's just part of our job.

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Man Puts (Paintball) Gun on Quadrotor, But Don't Panic

Well, it's barely been a week, but here's another video about armed drones for you. This one just happens to be about an inexpensive and accessible DIY drone with a paintball gun on it, as presented by some dude in an utterly ridiculous costume and an almost painful excess of drama who's doing his level best to convince you that you should be terrified.

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Google Grant to Help WWF Monitor Endangered Species with Drones

Photo: Helge Denker/WWF

Google has announced that it is awarding a US $5 million grant to the World Wildlife Fund to help the organization buy, among other things, drones. The drones will be used to keep track and protect tigers, rhinos, and elephants in Africa and Asia.

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Good Ideas: DARPA Program Adds Giant Robot Arm to UAV

Hey, you know what would be cool? Mounting a giant frikkin' robot arm on a giant frikkin' UAV. And since overall coolness seems to be the #1 criteria that DARPA uses to decide whether or not to pay someone a bunch of money to get a robot to do something (we heartily approve of this), we now have a giant frikkin' robot arm on a giant frikkin' UAV. Thanks, DARPA, and you're welcome, universe.

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Video Friday: Dances With Robot Arms, ROS Turns Five, LittleDog Says Hello

It's December. December means holidays, December means vacation, December means that you should call in sick today, sink into your couch, make yourself a mug of hot cocoa, and watch robot videos until everything you see looks like it's made out of a slightly less than infinite number of tiny little ones and zeros. Unfortunately, the only part of that that we can help you with is providing those robot videos, although we did manage to find this cocoa recipe from a blog that's supposedly by authored by some sort of robotic chef. So, there you go.

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AR Drone That Infects Other Drones With Virus Wins DroneGames

AR Drones can be much, much more than awesome toys. Just recently, we've see how the (relatively) inexpensive and versatile flying robots have been used as research tools, but the sky's the limit as to what you can do with them, so to speak. DroneGames, which took place over the weekend in San Francisco, tasked programmers with hacking the UAVs in the most interesting and creative ways possible.

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

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Erico Guizzo
 
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Evan Ackerman
 
 
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Jason Falconer
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Angelica Lim
 

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