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Our First Look Inside SAFFiR, the U.S. Navy's Firefighting Robot

We've got pics of the new humanid robot from Virginia Tech

1 min read
Our First Look Inside SAFFiR, the U.S. Navy's Firefighting Robot

When we posted about SAFFiR last week (the firefighting robot being developed by Virginia Tech's Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory), the best we could offer you in terms of imagery was a picture of CHARLI, a diagram, and a gratis screenshot of a flaming Terminator robot. Now Dr. Dennis Hong, the director of RoMeLa, wrote in to share these pics of what SAFFiR actually looks like right now.

I dunno about you, but my first reaction to these pics was something along the lines of "whoa, beefy." By comparison, CHARLI looks positively skeletal. Here's another pic of SAFFiR:

To recap, some of the distinguishing features of SAFFiR include those big, serious parallel linear actuators on the hip and ankle joints, titanium springs in the knees, and a central aluminum structure to allow to robot to carry a bunch of grenades and fire extinguishers and stuff. I'm still waiting to see how SAFFiR will manage to climb up ladders on a ship busy doing barrel rolls in a hurricane while on fire, but I think we can all be fairly confident that if RoMeLa can figure that out, more RoboCup wins should be no problem at all.

Via [ RoMeLa ]

Images: Virginia Tech's Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa)

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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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