Robot Yeti Tells You Where Not to Go in Antarctica

It's missing the hair and the giant feet, but the Yeti rover is right at home in Antarctica

1 min read
Robot Yeti Tells You Where Not to Go in Antarctica

Antarctica looks all nice and smooth, but lurking beneath the snow are the gaping maws of crevasses of doom. Doom, I say! And it's not just me saying it: the threat of crevasses means that moving anything from one place to another on the ground is a slow, potentially deadly process. That's why some researchers from Dartmouth came up with Yeti, a GPS-guided robot that can drag a ground-penetrating radar around to detect impending doom. This robot has been around for several years now, but its masters have just published a paper in the current issue of the Journal of Field Robotics, showing that Yeti can make a huge difference in polar logistics.

Here's Yeti doing its thing:

The driver in the snowcat follows behind Yeti, and if Yeti detects a crevasse, or if it suddenly disappears, then it's time to find an alternate route. And it's not just about safety: flying supplies all over the place (the safest way to move stuff around the Antarctic) is very expensive, and letting Yeti lead supply convoys instead saves about $2 million in logistical costs per year, says the NSF. Not bad for a robot that costs just $25,000. 

In addition to keeping humans safe, Yeti can also encourage humans to be lazy by taking over time-consuming radar terrain surveys, searching for everything from underground rivers to buried buildings. And for the super lazy, Yeti is powerful enough to tow a sled with three sunbathing researchers on it. Clearly, this little robot is all kinds of awesome, and the only thing wrong with it is that there's only one of 'em, which is not nearly enough to go around.

[ Yeti Blog] and [ Journal of Field Robotics ] via [ OurAmazingPlanet ]

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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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