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RoboBusiness 2013: A Robot to Carry Your Stuff

Budgee follows you around with a basket so that you'll never have to carry anything ever again

1 min read
RoboBusiness 2013: A Robot to Carry Your Stuff

Sometimes all it takes to make something successful is a simple solution to a simple problem. At RoboBusiness 2013, Five Elements Robotics demonstrated prototypes of a little robot called Budgee that can follow you around while carrying your stuff for you. That's all it does, but that's all it needs to do to be pretty darn useful.

Budgee is just about as simple as a robot of this size can get. It's got two wheels and holds a basket, and will autonomously drive after you while you walk around, whether you're shopping, out at the park, or doing anything else. It doesn't have any sort of fancy vision or navigation systems or anything like that. Instead, you slip a small ultrasonic pinger into your pocket, which the robot homes in on:

You can talk to the robot using an app on your phone, and set basic parameters like follow distance (and eye color!). Budgee can hold up to 22 kilograms (50 pounds) of whatever you like in a basket equipped with some sort of locking mechanism, and when you're done, the 'bot folds up into a package that somehow weighs just a little over 2 kilograms (5 pounds). Also included are a bump sensor and cliff sensors, but otherwise, that's the entire robot. Like we said, simple and straightforward.

As much as we like this idea, we're a little bit concerned about the $1,400 asking price. Five Elements is targeting a mid-November Kickstarter launch, and we're looking forward to a bunch more details when it goes live.

[ Five Elements Robotics ]

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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
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

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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