HRP-4 Hides It All Somewhere

HRP-4 is a full-size humanoid that manages to do all kinds of humanoid-y stuff without the bulk

1 min read
HRP-4 Hides It All Somewhere

Kawada Industries and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (ASIT) have just unveiled the latest edition of their family of humanoid robots, the HRP-4. HRP-4 is designed “in the image of a lean but well-muscled track-and-field athlete,” and it certainly is pretty damn lean…

At 5 feet tall it only weighs 86 pounds, and it boasts increased flexibility of its 34 joints over its predecessors. Despite its apparent lack of big fat heavy stuff like powerful motors, computers, and batteries, it has no trouble doing all of the important android basics:

HRP-4 is designed to aid in the development of robots that could replace humans in simple manual labor, specifically to address Japan’s impending labor shortage (due to an aging population and low birthrate). While I’m all for androids, when it comes to manual labor and repetitive tasks the human form (while adaptable) is not necessarily optimal, and I have to wonder whether it really makes sense to use humans as a research model in that respect.

HRP-4 will be available in 2011 for about $305,000.

Via [ Physorg ] and [ Pink Tentacle ]

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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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