It's National Robotics Week!

Welcome to National Robotics Week 2017. Let's celebrate!

1 min read
National Robotics Week
Image: National Robotics Week

Strictly speaking, every single week is Robotics Week around here, but this week (or, technically, April 8-16), also happens to be U.S. National Robotics Week. This is an Official Thing—the U.S. House of Representatives declared the second week in April to be National Robotics Week starting back in 2010 and continuing until the End of Time.

There are hundreds of events going on all over the country for the eighth edition of this event, ensuring that you’ll be able to find something awesome and roboty to do near you.

Hundreds of events, see?

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Image: National Robotics Week

There’s a list of everything (organized by state) at the official website here.

IEEE Spectrum is a big supporter of National Robotics Week, and like in previous years, we teamed up with iRobot and Georgia Tech to put together a new set of robot trading cards for 2017, which is obviously by far the most exciting thing about NRW every year, and you can see those here.

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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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