Robot Masters Jenga, Next the World

Add Jenga to the list of things that robots are way better than us at

1 min read
Robot Masters Jenga, Next the World

Confirming our suspicions that roboticists basically just sit around and invent ways to play games with robots all day, here's a video from Torsten Kröger (the same guy who took us through the JediBot demonstration at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, go figure) detailing how he and a bunch of his friends built themselves a robot that plays Jenga back in 2005:

As with most, uh, "research" projects like this, there's supposedly some larger purpose to it. Something about the potential of multi-sensor integration in industrial manipulation. Or whatever. I don't buy it, of course, but we can certainly applaud the fact that the robot was able to make 29 moves in a row, which means that it added nearly ten solid layers of blocks to the top of the tower without knocking it over. Time to preemptively surrender, folks. Here's one more vid of the robot making a move:

[ Jenga Robot ]

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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
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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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