Robonaut Gets Unpacked, Finally

It took special orders from President Obama, but Robonaut is now unpacked, armed, and almost operational

1 min read
Robonaut Gets Unpacked, Finally

Robonaut 2 was delivered to the International Space Station in a giant packing crate last month.I don't know about you, but if somebody sent me an awesome robot that looks more than a little bit like a Cylon, I wouldn't leave it all packed up in its box. And you know what? President Obama agrees with me, and during his live chat with the ISS crew on March 8, he directed (or, suggested, anyway) that they let the bot out already:

"Still in packing foam? That's a shame, man! C'mon guys, unpack the guy! He flew all that way and you guys aren't unpacking him?"

Steven Lindsey, commander of STS-133, replied:

"You know, the poor guy's been locked in that foam for about four months now... Every once in a while we hear some scratching sounds from inside, maybe a 'let me out, let me out,' but we're not sure."

Uh, that's kinda creepy. But for better or worse, R2 is now officially out of its packing crate, hooray!

You know, in that stowed pose, R2 looks almost exactly like a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robot. Not that I'm implying anything...

Sadly, R2 still has a long wait ahead of it, since testing isn't scheduled to begin until May. In the meantime, R2 is just going to sit there on its pedestal, ready to rock 'n sock anyone who happens to float too close.

[ Robonaut ] via [ AP ] and [ @Astrorobonaut ]

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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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