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RIBA II Healthcare Robot Gets Bigger Muscles, Cuter Ears

How'd you like to get a lift from a friendly robot bear?

1 min read
RIBA II Healthcare Robot Gets Bigger Muscles, Cuter Ears

We first met RIBA (or, RIBA-I as we should start calling it) back in 2009, although the assistive robot has been around since 2004. Developed in a partnership between RIKEN (a natural sciences research institute in Japan) and Tokai Rubber Industries, RIBA's job is to lift people when asked nicely. Seems trivial, yes, but if you don't have a robot bear around to help you out, you either need to use an awkward and uncomfortable piece of machinery or have a person do it, and if you haven't noticed, we humans are hefty and getting heftier. This is especially problematic for healthcare workers who have to lift patients frequently, and often get injured doing so.

RIBA is snuggly soft to make lifting comfortable and fun, and the pronounced bearishness is there to help patients relax. This new and improved robot (RIBA-II) features springs to help it lift more weight, and it responds to both touch and voice commands:

So let's just run the numbers real quick on RIBA's increasing buffness: in 2006 RIBA could lift 40 pounds, in 2009 RIBA could lift 135 pounds, and RIBA II is now up to 175 pounds. Let's see, that would mean that RIBA will be cracking the 1,000 pound mark by around 2040, which might just be enough to keep up with the pace with which we humans are packing on weight. But it's gonna be close.

[ Press Release ] via [ Reuters ]

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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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