Fun Robot Stuff: Roomba Revenge and My Robot Nation

Hey look, some cheap roboticsy gifts that you can afford to get for other people AND yourself

2 min read
Fun Robot Stuff: Roomba Revenge and My Robot Nation

What with the holidays coming up faster than a reindeer being chased by a menorah, we've got a couple fun little robot gifts that are so cheap you might as well just buy them for yourself.

iRobot is releasing a new iOS app, and let me just say that no, it's not a way for you to remotely interact with your Roomba (sad). Instead, it's a game where you drive a Roomba around picking up dirt, avoiding evil dust bunnies, and tolerating the molestations of curious cats and overly affectionate humans:

Does this game hint that the next generation of Roombas will actually come with giant pointy teeth and be able to devour small animals as well as vacuum your floors? Our professional opinion: maybe.

It's definitely a fun little game (we tried it out ourselves), but the real reason we're writing about it is that iRobot has pledged to give a portion of the proceeds from Roomba Revenge to SPARK, their robot-focused STEM (science technology engineering math) educational program. Fun game, cheap price, good cause, what's not to like? [ Roomba Revenge ]


The other fun thing we have for you is My Robot Nation, a website where you can design your own 3D robot figurines. I know, "design" sounds intimidating, but they've got a slick website that lets you simply point and click to combine different parts and modules in 3D, and assign them colors, patterns, accessories, and even adjust the final pose to make your bot look as menacing as possible. When you're done, a 3D printer will turn your little friend into a real live (well, I guess a real inert) robot figure that will be mailed to you.

Prices for the robot figures vary based on size; a 3-inch model costs $25, a 5-inch is $100, while the mammoth six-inch robot will set you back nearly $170. And yes, you can also give a printing as a gift, which allows that special roboticist (or blogger) in your life to design their very  own figure. [ My Robot Nation ]

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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