Tomorrow, the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) opens in Stockholm, Sweden. Over the next three days, more than 1,200 robotics research papers will be presented through a bunch of concurrent interactive conference sessions, and we’ll be running around doing our best to check out every single one of them.

To give you a sense of the kind of thing that we’re expecting to see, here are a quartet of highlights videos that ICRA put together from this year’s paper submissions, featuring the yellow ducky mascot:

See something you’d like details on? Let us know, and we’ll find out more starting tomorrow. And check back the rest of the week (and probably on into next few weeks) for an in-depth look at the most interesting robotics research that we can find.

[ ICRA 2016 ]

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
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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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