Epic Quadrotor Fails Caught on Video

Quadrotors are capable of some amazing autonomous tricks, but things don't always go as planned

1 min read

UPenn's GRASP Lab has done some absolutely spectacular things with quadrotors. They've taught them to fly in formation, build structures, and even fling themselves through narrow windows. But as with every learning process, there are going to be some cases where things just don't go quite right, and when you're dealing with fast moving autonomous robots with four spinning rotors apiece, sometimes tests can be, to quote UPenn, "spectacularly unsuccessful":

Spectacular is right. I'm not sure what exactly caused the attempted backstab at 0:20 or the mass suicide at 0:28, but all those violent quadrotor deaths were pretty funny to see. You know, for science.

Oh, and props to the GRASP Lab quadrotor team for sharing their failures along with their successes.

[ UPenn GRASP Lab ]

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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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