PR2 and TurtleBot Team Up to Bring You Drinks

Thirsty? Lazy? A pair of robots at Bosch will cooperate to bring you whatever drink you want, as long as it's Coke, Diet Coke, or Orange Crush

1 min read
PR2 and TurtleBot Team Up to Bring You Drinks

PR2 and TurtleBot robots at Bosch

I love how so much of what's recognized as practical robotics research nowadays seems to be largely motivated by programmers who are hungry, thirsty, bored, and too lazy to do anything about it themselves: "well, I could go get myself a drink, or instead I could just program this robot to get me one instead! Yeah, let's do that!"

In practice, of course, there's no laziness involved, and the problems tackled by these demonstrations are complex and highly relevant to everything from object recognition to grasping strategies to autonomous navigation. So what if successful completion of a task happens to involve a tangible reward for those hard-working roboticists? They've absolutely earned it.

This latest hackathon from Bosch's research lab in Palo Alto, Calif., involves a PR2 and a TurtleBot joining forces to take drink orders over the internet. The Bosch PR2, named Alan, is tethered to a ceiling-mounted power plug, so he's in charge of handling the fridge, choosing the right drink, and picking it up, while the TurtleBot (named BusBot) takes care of the actual delivery:

It does kinda look like the guy who gets the drink at the end is not the same as the guy who ordered the drink in the first place, but that's understandable. I'm sure to a robot, all us biological meatbags look pretty much the same.

[ Bosch RTC ]

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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
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?

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