Robotic Venus Flytrap Spells Doom for Robotic Flies

There's only one reason to create a robotic flytrap: catching robotic flies

1 min read
Robotic Venus Flytrap Spells Doom for Robotic Flies

Man, just when we were getting close to making actual robotinsects, some thoughtless researchers had to go and invent a robotic insect-eating plant. Sigh. The artificial venus flytrap in the pic (which can apparently be abbreviated "VFT") is a creation of Mohsen Shahinpoor from the University of Maine.

Like a real VFT, this artificial plant has an intelligence of sorts, in the form of ionic polymeric metal composite trigger hairs on the inside of its polymer leaves. When something (like a tasty insect) touches on one of the hairs, a copper electrode triggers the leaves to snap shut in 0.3 second, and a series of teeth interlock to keep whatever the robot has caught from escaping.

For now, this robot flytrap only snacks on the old-fashioned biological sorts of flies. It also doesn't currently have the infrastructure required to turn said flies into robot food, but that's just a matter of hooking up a microbial digester like this one to turn bugs into robot fuel.

[ Paper ] via [ PopSci ] and [ DVICE ]

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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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