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Mars Escape Online Game Helps To Study Human-Robot Interaction

MIT's Personal Robots Group has released an online game to study human-robot interactions

1 min read

Researchers at the Personal Robots Group at the MIT's Media Lab have developed a new online game to study human interactions. Mars Escape forms teams of two human players, with one person taking on the role of an astronaut, and the other one controlling a robot on Mars. Human and robot must work together to complete various missions before oxygen runs out.

In the current first phase of the study the researchers investigate how human players work as a team. In a second phase later this year the researchers will use the data collected from human players to build a model of how humans interacted for task assignment, action synchronization, and problem solving. The model will then be tested by creating an in-game AI.

The long-term goal of the project is to create robots that are able to assist and work with humans in a natural, predictable and robust way. To this end, the researchers will recreate the game environment in real life this summer at the Boston Museum of Science, and test their behavior model using their MDS robot Nexi.

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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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