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Robots Preparing to Defeat Humans in Soccer

Can a team of soccer-playing robots beat the human World Cup champions by 2050?

1 min read

Can a team of soccer-playing robots beat the human World Cup champions by 2050?

That’s the ultimate goal of RoboCup, an international tournament where teams of soccer robots compete in various categories, from small wheeled machines to adult-size humanoids.

IEEE Spectrum’s Harry Goldstein traveled to Singapore to attend RoboCup 2010 and see how the man vs. machine future of soccer is playing out.

Special thanks to Aamir Ahmad and Prof. Pedro U. Lima from the Institute for Systems and Robotics, Instituto Superior Técnico, in Lisboa, Portugal; Prof. Mike Wong Hong Kee from Singapore Polytechnic; and the Advanced Robotics & Intelligent Control Centre at Singapore Polytechnic for additional footage.

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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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