The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Next Week is National Robotics Week!

April is a big month for robotics, with RoboGames hard on the servos of National Robotics Week

2 min read
Next Week is National Robotics Week!

Next week (or, technically, this Saturday) is National Robotics Week (or, technically, week and two days). This year, you can look forward to 135 planned events encompassing all 50 states. Attend, Share and Enjoy! Plus: RoboGames! (!!!)

We're not just making this up: it's official, according to House Resolution 1055, which states that "whereas" (blah blah blah) "all-encompassing and enabling technology" (blah blah blah) "the most effective, compelling, and engaging means for teaching and reinforcing fundamental science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts" (blah blah blah) "the second week in April each year is designated as ‘National Robotics Week’, recognizing the accomplishments of Isaac Asimov, who immigrated to America, taught science, wrote science books for children and adults, first used the term robotics, developed the Three Laws of Robotics, and died in April, 1992." So there you have it.

The best way to find some high-quality roboty stuff to do is to check out this map, which has a handy location-based list of all the goings on.

[ National Robotics Week 2012 ]

Hey, you know what's coming up the week directly following NRW? That's right: ROBOGAMES!

That's the new 2012 RoboGames logo by artist Chris Kawagiwa. Love the robot, slightly confused about the Death Star, but it looks like our shield protected us from its fully armed and operational laser, so that's cool.

We'll have a preview article as we get closer to the event. But for now, suffice it to say that I'll be there in person, taking pictures and video and getting a tour of the brand spankin' new (and super expensive) Mech Warfare arena, and I'll be giving a lecture on an as-yet undetermined subject but likely having to do with robots and the possible probable doom of all humans. You know, typical stuff. So if you'll be at the event, make sure to swing by and clap extra loudly at the end.

[ RoboGames 2012 ]

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
Horizontal
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
DarkGray

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?

Keep Reading ↓Show less