Quadrotors Play Bond Theme, Are Clearly Working for Evil Masterminds

We'll tell you all about it, just as soon as we get you nice and comfortable in this unnecessarily complicated death trap

1 min read
Quadrotors Play Bond Theme, Are Clearly Working for Evil Masterminds

We'd always had an inkling that those cackling one-eyed cat lovers over at University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab were nefarious geniuses bent on world domination, and now we have proof.

Yes, that's the James Bond theme played by a swarm of nanoquads. This video premiered during the 2012 TED Conference, where Vijay Kumar (pictured above with one of the robots) was invited to give a talk. Those of us who were unlucky enough not to be invited to TED will have to wait for the video of the talk to be posted online, but you can at least feel a little bit smug that as a faithful reader of IEEE Spectrum, you're already very familiar with all the verycoolstuff that the GRASP Lab has been doing with their quadrotors.

We should also mention that this isn't the first time that quadrotors have played the piano, although the harp-thing and the guitar are new (and quite clever). In December of 2010, a quadrotor named Echo from the Flying Machine Arena at ETH Zurich played jingle bells for the holidays all by herself. You can watch that performance below, and make sure you stick around until the very end of the video:

Awww!

[ TED ] via [ UPenn ]

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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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