Don't Forget, It's National Robotics Week!

Hundreds of robotics events are taking place all over the country this week

1 min read
Robot trading cards
IEEE Spectrum teams up each year with iRobot and Georgia Tech's Institute for Robotics & Intelligent Machines (IRIM) to create a set of trading cards featuring 10 famous robots and their creators. Check out the 2018 deck!
Image: IEEE Spectrum; Robot cards: National Robotics Week

In 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed resolution H.Res. 1055 to make the second week of April officially National Robotics Week. Now celebrating its eighth year, National Robotics Week is more national and more robotics-y than ever, with hundreds of events taking place all over the country.

We know that most of you live robotics every single day anyway (as you should), and so National Robotics Week might not seem like it’s worth celebrating, but what about your friends and family who have no idea how cool robots are, and who maybe have no idea what it is that you actually, you know, do? Fundamentally, NRW is all about celebrating how cool robotics is, and getting as many people involved as possible—think about finding an event near you that looks like fun, and then dragging someone along who doesn’t (yet) understand why robotics is the best thing ever. They’ll either thank you for it, or think you’re crazy, but it’s a win either way, right?

You can find out what’s going on at the National Robotics Week website, here. If you can’t find something near you, that just means that you need to start planning to host your own NRW event next year. And don’t forget, we’ve partnered with NRW to make a brand-new set of robot trading cards, which you can get here.

[ National Robotics Week

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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

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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

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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