The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Big Robot Arm With Laser Cuts Steel

Watch this ABB industrial robot laser cutting steel sheets like they were butter

1 min read

I don't know if it's the music or what, but watching this 'bot cutting steel sheets like they were butter feels so...mesmerizing. I could watch this the whole day. The robot is an ABB IRB 4400, a 6-axis industrial manipulator designed for high speed cutting and handling applications. It weighs one metric ton and has a payload capacity of 60 kilograms. The video shows the robot laser cutting various shapes and perfectly round holes on high strength steel sheets. ABB claims that this robotic laser system offers "the flexibility of industrial robots with lower capital costs and smaller footprint than traditional laser machining centers." I don't know about that, but I do wish I had a giant robot with a laser in my garage.

[ ABB Robotics ]

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
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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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