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Truss-Climbing Robot Can Build Structures, Take Them Apart

Cornell's climbing robot can assemble and disassemble truss structures as it goes

1 min read
Truss-Climbing Robot Can Build Structures, Take Them Apart

Next time you need a new house, Cornell's Creative Machines Lab is betting that robots might have a hand (or lack of hands) in helping you build it. Like otherclimbing bots we've seen before, their "autonomous truss-structure modifying robot" is capable of clambering around three-dimensional structures, but with a twist: The robot can add and remove bits and pieces as it goes.

This is one of those things where the vid more or less explains it all, although I'm a little bit curious whether the robot is smart enough to know not to disassemble a structural component that's keeping it from plummeting to its own death. The video description suggests that at some point, the robot (and a bunch of its friends) might be controlled by a system that would allow them to build (and reconfigure) structures that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous for humans to put together, but until that happens, we can at least admire the clever combinations of 3D printed bidirectional gearing that lets this little guy do what he does.

Via [ Cornell Creative Machines Lab ]

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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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