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Behold Your Doom: Robospidernaut

Oh yes, this giant robotic spider with a Cylon on top is very, very real

2 min read
Behold Your Doom: Robospidernaut

Is this one seriously awesome death robot or what? Giant robotic spiders with human torsos and Cylon heads: it's not a nightmare, it's for science! 

Full disclosure: despite the dramatic angle at which this picture was taken, you're unfortunately looking at two (or maybe technically three) robots instead of just one gold spidery killing machine. The robot in the foreground is Spidernaut, which looks like this:

Spidernaut is designed for constructing and maintaining large on-orbit structures in space. NASA went with a design featuring eight 3-DOF legs so that the robot can spread out its weight (or mass, I should say, since this is space we're talking about) over as much area as possible, and with all those legs no torque is imparted when the robot moves. NASA has been talking about about a whole new class of arachnid robots like these, some of which may be able to deploy "webs" of tethers to cross larger distances in space.

The other robot (or two) in the picture at the top is Robonaut 1, mounted on top of Centaur 1. Here's the pair without a Spidernaut in front of them:

Isn't he cute? And this only the first generation of both Robotnaut and Centaur, which is a modular vehicle designed to give Robonaut some mobility (since he doesn't come with legs). You probably know all about Robonaut 2 (he's the one who's partying up on the ISS), but have you seen Centaur 2?

Centaur 2 is a pretty sweet ride, no doubt about that, but someone needs to take the hint and actually mount Robonaut on Spidernaut.  Not because it's a good idea, because it may be a terrible idea. And not because anything specific needs to be accomplished, because it probably wouldn't accomplish much. But you'd have yourself a giant robotic spider with a human torso and Cylon head, and come on, how can you not be excited about that?

[ Spidernaut ]

[ Robonaut ]

Thanks to KWC for the epic pic!

The Conversation (0)

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
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

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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