Meet the New World's Fastest Micromouse Robot

How long does it take a micromouse to negotiate a maze? Not very long at all

1 min read
Meet the New World's Fastest Micromouse Robot

One year ago, we got super excited when a micromouse managed to negotiate a maze in under five seconds. At the 2011 All Japan Micromouse Robot Competition in Tsukuba, the micromouse pictured above shaved an entire second off of that time, completing the maze in a scant 3.921 seconds. That's fast.

This robot, called Min7.1, was designed by Ng Beng Kiat. It has a top speed of just over 12 kph, which is wicked quick for something that's 10 cm long and weighs only 90 grams. Of course, the micromouse has to figure out where it's going before it can put the hammer down and blaze through on its final run, which is why it first gets an autonomous exploration phase:

If we continue the trend, next year we'll have a three second robot, followed by a two second robot, and by  2016 or so, robots will be blowing through mazes before we even ask them to.

[ Ng Beng Kiat ] via [ Robots Dreams ]

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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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