Here are the Newest Additions to the Robot Hall of Fame

The Robot Hall of Fame announces 2012 inductees

2 min read
Here are the Newest Additions to the Robot Hall of Fame

The official induction ceremony for the Robot Hall of Fame took place at at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh last week. Over 17,000 people cast votes online to choose which are the four best robots of 2012, and which robots totally suck. We kid! If it was up to us, all of these robots would have made it in, and we're still holding out hope that a few of them will come back for the next round. But until that happens, here are the winners, along with some of our favorite video clips.




NAO was inducted in the Education & Consumer category. An autonomous, programmable, humanoid robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics in 2006, the 22-inch-tall robot is used as an education platform and in the RoboCup robot soccer Standard Platform League. Other nominees in this category were iRobot's CREATE and the VEX Robotics Design System.

[ Aldebaran Robotics ]




In the Entertainment category, voters chose WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class), the lovable star of the 2008 Disney/Pixar blockbuster by the same name. In the movie, WALL-E inadvertently embarks on a space journey that ultimately decides the fate of mankind. Other nominees in this category were Rosie the maid from the cartoon series "The Jetsons" and Johnny 5 from the 1986 movie "Short Circuit."

[ Wall-E ]




PackBot won in the Industrial & Service category. Created by iRobot, PackBot is one of the most successful battle-tested robots in the world. It performs bomb disposal and other dangerous missions for troops and first responders. More than 4,500 units are currently on station in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was one of the first robots to enter the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 tsunami. The other nominees were Kiva Systems' autonomous warehouse robots and the Jason submersible from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

[ iRobot PackBot ]




BigDog was recognized in the Research category. This dynamically stable quadruped robot was created in 2005 by Boston Dynamics. It can traverse difficult terrain and run at 4 miles an hour while carrying 340 pounds and climbing a 35-degree incline. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has sponsored its development as a robotic pack mule to accompany soldiers in terrain too tough for conventional vehicles. Other nominees were Willow Garage's two-armed PR2 mobile robot and NASA's Robonaut.

[ Boston Dynamics ]



Even the Late Show (the one with David Letterman) picked up on the news, with this RHoF-themed Top 10 list, which could have been a lot funnier:

Our suggestions for some other signs that your robot will not be inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame:

  • Your robot videos on YouTube have three views, and all of them were you.
  • Your robot only operates properly in your basement when nobody else is watching.
  • Your robot can run, it can jump, it can fly, it's indestructible, it's powered by unobtanium, it can go invisible, it has the potential to save the world, and you managed to build it for just $5 from parts you got at Radio Shack. Unfortunately, you forgot to program it to go un-invisible, and now you have no idea where it is.

And here's one sign that your robot will definitely be inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame:

  • Your robot has an obscenely large laser cannon, knows where Carnegie Mellon is, and doesn't come with an E-stop.

[ Robot Hall of Fame ]

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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