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RoboGames 2012: Mech Warfare Post-Game Preview

While we get the video from Mech Warfare all put together, here's a little teaser gallery to tide you over

2 min read
RoboGames 2012: Mech Warfare Post-Game Preview

We spent all of last weekend at RoboGames, and have emerged battered, bruised, and sporting several shiny new robot-related minor injuries. I spent most of yesterday going through robot withdrawal, not so much from an excess of weekend robotitude (although there definitely was that), but mostly due to the accidental inhalation of copious amounts of whatever is that comes out of burning battery packs and fried speed controllers. But, being a professional journalist and all that (!), I'm managed to pull myself together enough for this little teaser gallery of the 2012 Mech Warfare competition, featuring a brand new arena that many of you helped make possible.

Mech Warfare's new arena might not have happened without the generous donations of many Spectrum readers, and here's the result:


Of course, none of the Mech Warfare competitors got to enjoy this arena firsthand, because they were all parked behind computer monitors, using telepresence to control their mechs:


And here's some of the denizens of this fancy new arena:





We'd tell you more, but then this wouldn't be much of a teaser post, would it?

This year, we were able to bring along one of those nifty little GoPro cameras, which let us get some fairly spectacular "street level" video footage of the Mech Warfare matches. We also risked life and limb in the arena during matches themselves, and we'll be putting all of this together over the next few days as soon as somebody (me) can make it happen. Meanwhile, we'll be getting back to your regularly scheduled robotics news at the same time.

[ Mech Warfare ]

[ RoboGames ]

The Conversation (0)

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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