Hey, guess what? It's robot season! I know, I know, around here it's always robot season. But this next month is absolutely positively packed with robot news and events, from major (major) new product releases that we can't tell you about yet to big events ranging from RoboBusiness in Pittsburgh to Combots in San Francisco to IROS in Portugal.

Of course, none of that stuff has happened yet, but that's not stopping Video Friday from being full of, you know, videos. We've got space robots, paper robots, some lovely robot films, and even some robotic tentacles. So let's get kraken!

Willow Garage is doing some interesting research on how different heights effect interaction between people and telepresence robots:

Now, we can't help but point out that this research is showing up just a week or two before Willow spin-off Suitable Technologies is set to announce what they've been working on. The robot in the video, Texai, is the basis for Suitable's telepresence platform, but we don't know much more than that. We should point out that this is Willow Garage research, not Suitable research, but when they're talking about how the research "can help to inform designers of future embodied mediated systems," it definitely makes us wonder.

Via [ Willow Garage ]



You remember Curiosity, right? The robot? That's on Mars? Because it's STILL ON MARS, and here's an update:

[ MSL ]



Curiosity is made from a whoooole bunch of gears (among other things). The gears were made at the Forest City Gear factory in Rockford, Illinois, and this charming short film introduces you to some of the people involved in the process.

Via [ Mental Floss ]



A little bit o' funny, if you're in to pranking strangers:

This would be funnier if it was a real robot, but we're wondering how many of these people actually believed that a.) the robot WAS real and b.) that silly little remote control was doing anything.

Thanks Mike!



Ah yes, everybody loves robotic tentacles, as long as they're groping things that aren't parts of your body. Unless you're in to that sort of thing. We don't judge.

This particular tentacle lurks in George Whitesides' lab at Harvard University. It's air powered, and by selectively inflating a combination of three different twisting air channels, the tentacle can grope around and grab onto things in a not at all creepy way.

[ Harvard ] via [ New Scientist ]



It's possible to make robots out of paper. Operational ones, powered by rubber bands. Who knew?

[ Geocities ]



This beautiful film by Neil Harvey remixes a bunch of NASA footage into a totally original short film about the future of Robonaut.

Via [ Neatorama ]



We'll wrap things up this week with some action-packed preview vids of the upcoming ComBots Cup VII, taking place on SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY October 21. And Saturday October 20 also. Buy tickets to see robot death and destruction in person here, and if you subscribe to the Combots YouTube channel, you'll get a brand new brilliantly edited and directed combat video every other day.



Episode 3 is available right now, check it out here.


[ Combots ]

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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