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DARPA's Crowdsourced UAVs Get Real

Those sweet UAVForge concepts we saw a couple months ago have morphed into flying prototypes

1 min read
DARPA's Crowdsourced UAVs Get Real

Back in December, we showed you a bunch of concepts from DARPA's crowdsourced UAVForge competition. The teams involved have just submitted their proof-of-flight videos, and while there are a bunch of quadrotors and hexacopters that won't surprise you, there are at least a few designs that will.

After the first round of voting (on just these proof-of-flight videos), the robot in the lead is the GremLion UAV from the National University of Singapore. This is awesome, 'cause the GremLion is one of the most unique designs in the entire competition. In its final form, it'll be like a little Death Star on wheels that can open up and deploy a coaxial set of rotors to fly around. Here's the proof-of-flight vid:

I dunno who that narrator is, but I want him reading my eulogy.

Another unique design is the X-MAUS, a quadrotor that unfolds itself after takeoff to turn into a more efficient airplane:

One of my personal favorites is the QuadShot from TU Delft, but it's definitely not because their "optimized" design is going to look almost exactly like a B-Wing from Star Wars:

The next stage of all this is the live demos, which will all be posted online between February 24th and March 1. After that, the top 10 teams will compete against each other in a life fly-off sometime in the spring. Until then, you'll have to content yourself with looking over the rest of the UAVForge entries at the needlessly complicated website below.

[ UAVForge ] via [ AviationWeek ]

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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
DarkGray

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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