This is an amazing time for robotics. So much is happening. If only we could turbocharge this blog.

Guess what? We're doing exactly that. Starting this week, Automaton and BotJunkie, two of the world's leading robots blogs, are teaming up to create a monster robotics news machine. Well, we're still more human than machine, but we'll be churning out lots of great stuff -- daily stories, in-depth articles, product reviews, interviews, exclusive videos, and more.

The reason we're merging is simple. Evan Ackerman, the creator of BotJunkie, and I believe that together (along with other contributors) we can do a much better job covering all the cool news and happenings in robotics and AI. Did I mention there's a lot happening? (Read Evan's note on the merger.)

Indeed, BotJunkie and Automaton complement each other quite well. Evan has diligently chronicled the latest developments in robotics for more than three years, posting exclusivereviews and thousands of stories that are fun to read and consistentlywentviralon the Net. Automaton has focused on more in-depth technical posts and exclusive stories, and our robotics coverage hasalsoproducedscoops and earned journalisticrecognition.

So if you're already an Automaton reader, expect even greater robotics content. If you're a BotJunkie reader migrating over here, welcome!

As Evan said, we really like what he's been doing at BotJunkie and we don't want that to change. Evan will be posting daily stories about the same types of things and with the same style and tone as he'd been doing over at BotJunkie. But he'll also be doing more -- traveling to conferences, reviewing more products, and occasionally becoming a robot himself. (He's so dedicated to his readership that, even though he'll be out on vacation for a couple of weeks, he prepared a bunch of posts to be published while he's away.)

As in any merger, there are bumps along the way, and several loyal BotJunkie readers have asked for a better RSS feed and web design for Automaton. We hear you. We agree with you. And we'll do all we can to make those things happen.

It may sound corny, but as Evan nicely put it, we love writing about robots, but it's you, our readers, who really make it worthwhile. We love the e-mails, the tips, the comments, the tweets. Keep those coming. You can reach us by e-mail -- e.guizzo (at) ieee (dot) org and evan (at) botjunkie (dot) com -- or on Twitter (AutomatonBlog and BotJunkie) and Facebook.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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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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