RoboGames Starts Today!

We'll be at RoboGames this entire weekend, watching robots try and beat each other to death in all sorts of different events

2 min read
RoboGames Starts Today!


Today is officially the first day of RoboGames, and if you're reading this blog and are anywhere near San Francisco, there's really no excuse not to go. Robots will be competing in approximately five million different events, ranging from heavyweight combat to micromouse maze solving to autonomous firefighting to hardcore Mech Warfare. Oh, and there will be a symposium, too, and you really shouldn't miss that, especially if you like watching certain robot bloggers act all nervous and awkward-like while attempting to give a talk. Ahem.

We'll be trying to get around all the different events as best as we can, but our focus will be two different areas: Mech Warfare (including the new hardcore class in their fancy new arena), and autonomous events. The latter includes various humanoid challenges, autonomous combat, and autonomous sumo.

RoboGames runs Friday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., meaning that you can still totally sleep in while making it to all the events. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids at the door (active military and dependents get in free), and this year's venue is the San Mateo expo center.

[ RoboGames ]

Also, if you're lucky enough to be located here in the Bay Area, there are some other exciting robotics events coming up. Tonight is the inaugural San Francisco Robot Film Festival screening at the Autofuss/Bot & Dolly/BeatBots studios, and for just $5 you can swing by and enjoy a selection of films from the inaugural 2011 festival.

[ Robot Film Festival SF ]

And in the next few weeks, we're looking forward to a weekend-long robot startup workshop hosted by Robot Launchpad, followed by an Xconomy forum on "The Future of Robotics in Silicon Valley and Beyond." Confirmed speakers will include Helen Greiner (co-founder of iRobot), Mick Mountz (CEO of Kiva), Rich Mahoney (director of robotics at SRI), Steve Cousins and Brian Gerkey from Willow Garage, as well as heavyweights from Adept, Meka, Liquid Robotics, Google, and more. 

[ Xconomy Forum ]

What with the increasing number of robot events going on, we've been thinking about putting together a calendar of some sort to make it easy to see what's going on, where, and when. If you think that would be helpful (and have any suggestions as to a good way to do it), let us know.

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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