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Robots Podcast: How to Build Your Own UAV for 300 USD

The Robots Podcast interviews DIY Drones founder Chris Anderson

1 min read

A decade ago the term Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was synonymous for expensive equipment, complex aerodynamics, and cruise-missile-type control algorithms. But since then, a rapid price decay in IMUs caused by the rise of mobile computing has slashed equipment costs. Today, open-source software like the Arduino environment and open-source hardware like the ArduPilot allow you and me to build our own UAV in a weekend for less than 300 USD.

Much of this progress is due to what has become the largest amateur UAV community and one of the largest robotics communities: DIY Drones. Founded by Chris Anderson, whose day job is Editor-in-Chief of WIRED, the site now has more than 12'000 members and covers all aspects of UAVs.

In its latest episode, the Robots podcast interviews Chris Anderson about DIY Drones. Anderson explains how to go about building a cheap UAV, why autonomous stabilization and navigation has become easy, the technical and legal aspects of flying your autonomous plane around the neighborhood, and the risk of putting UAV technology into the wrong hands. Anderson also talks about his experience with producing open source hardware and the economic challenges - and benefits - this brings about. To conclude, he shares some anecdotes on some of the crazy projects run on his site.

For more information head over to the Robots Podcast, head over to DIY Drones or directly read on about or tune in to the interview!

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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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