The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Quadrotors Demonstrate Mad Cooperative Juggling Skills

If you've ever wondered how quadrotors entertain themselves, this seems like it

1 min read

Back in December, I posted a little teaser preview of a talented quadrotor juggling a ball at ETH Zurich's entirely awesome Flying Machine Arena. That quadrotor has been practicing, and has even enlisted a friend. Hey look, now robots can amuse themselves!

Besides the quadrotors, what makes this all possible is an extremely sophisticated motion capture system, so it's unlikely that you'll see these skills (or these skills, for that matter) outside of a tightly controlled environment.

For the record, these are easily the most impressive juggling robots in recent memory, which includes one or two or three or four other bots. Now seriously, put a net up there and let's have ourselves some robot volleyball already.

[ ETH - IDSC ]

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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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