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The Automaton Team

Automaton is IEEE Spectrum's robotics blog

2 min read

Automaton is IEEE Spectrum's robotics blog. But wait. What's IEEE and Spectrum anyway? The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is the world's largest professional technology society, with nearly 400,000 members in over 150 countries. The IEEE organizes hundreds of technical conferences and publishes dozens of journals.


Published monthly, Spectrum is the flagship publication of the IEEE. It goes to all members and covers all areas of electrotechnology. With Automaton, we hope to expand our coverage of robotics, which we believe will play an ever more important role in people's lives. Meet the team:


erico guizzo

Erico Guizzo, an associate editor at IEEE Spectrum, in New York City, has written and edited articles on surgical robots, exoskeletons, autonomous underwater vehicles, AI, and industrial automation. Originally from Brazil, he has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's degree in science writing from MIT. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife and daughter.


mikell taylor

Mikell (pronounced "Michael") Taylor was diagnosed with acute robotics geekiness at a young age. Her current treatments include designing and building robots for Bluefin Robotics in Cambridge, Mass., volunteering for the FIRST robotics competition, and watching her Roombas clean her apartment. When not geeking out, Mikell likes learning foreign languages, getting lost in big cities, and becoming a Guitar Hero.


markus waibel

Markus Waibel studied physics and has since been edging his way towards robotics. He has started a popular podcast on robotics and AI, coded a simulator for swarm robots, experimented with artificial ants, and now just finished his PhD in evolutionary robotics. Originally from Austria, Markus has traversed the Alps on skis and now lives in Lausanne, Switzerland.


john palmisano

John Palmisano is the author of the popular robotics website Society of Robots. He first started building robots while studying mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation, he spent the next three years as a research engineer studying the design of robotic pectoral fins for UUVs at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. John is currently living in Bangkok, Thailand, pursuing his Thai language hobby.



AuAu, Automaton's robot-logo, was created by Fabio Miranda, a computer science professor at Senac, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


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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