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DLR's Rollin' Justin Catches Two Thrown Balls At Once

I'd have trouble catching two balls tossed to me at the same time, one in each hand, but to DLR's Justin robot, it's a cinch

1 min read

Robots are (sometimes) pretty good at playing catch, sometimes extraordinarily good, but many of the coolest demos involving robots interacting with fast-moving objects rely on extremely precise external vision systems. This reliance means that you aren't likely to see robots performing such tricks outside of a lab. DLR's Rollin' Justin, on the other hand, is using onboard cameras and processing, meaning that it could just as easily play catch with you on your front lawn:

Did I say play catch with you? I meant to say, play catch with you and someone else at the same time.

In case you missed those specs, the robot is able to position itself within two centimeters of where it needs to be in a time window of only five milliseconds, which yields an impressive catch rate of better than 80 percent. That's maybe not major league, but it could probably be little league, and undoubtedly there's still some optimizing to do. You know that robot buddy you wish you had when you were a kid, that would always be up for a game of catch? This could be it; they just need to teach it how to throw the ball back first.

[ IROS 2010 Paper and ICRA 2011 Paper Abstract ] via [ Hizook ]

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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
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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