The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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4 Ways To Climb a Wall, Robot Edition (Video)

To climb a wall, these robots use sticky tape, cat-like claws, or even secrete adhesive like a snail

1 min read
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/v/9kgXWUEk-lM&hl=en_US&fs=1& expand=1]

 

Spectrum has recently profiled Israeli roboticist Amir Shapiro, who develops bio-inspired robots at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Beersheba, Israel. I asked Shapiro if he had any videos of his wall-climbing bots. I'm glad I asked. He's just posted the clip above showing four of his creations: 1. A magnetic robot capable of climbing on metal surfaces; 2. A snail-inspired robot that secrets hot melt glue to stick to walls; 3. A robot that has 3M sticky tape on its wheels and can climb on smooth surfaces like a whiteboard or glass; 4. A four-legged wall bot that uses claws made of fishing hooks to climb rough surfaces like a cat or rodent. Fore more about Shapiro's work, visit his sites: http://www.bgu.ac.il/~ashapiro and http://bgurobots.pbworks.com/

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
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In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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