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Video Friday: Scary UAVs, Friendly Exoskeletons, and Cheetah Gets a Tail

Now that Curiosity is safely on Mars, we'll get you caught up with this week's other robotics news

2 min read
Video Friday: Scary UAVs, Friendly Exoskeletons, and Cheetah Gets a Tail

Curiosity self-portrait. Larger version here.

It's been a huge week for robots. Hopefully, you were able to follow along with us at JPL while we watched Curiosity land, and the landing, while arguably the most exciting part, is just the beginning of the awesomeness that we're expecting to come from the robot as it starts exploring Mars. We'll keep bringing you updates (albeit at a slightly less frantic pace) as Curiosity starts to drive around, and we're already planning a trip back to JPL to learn more about her autonomous capabilities.

Meanwhile, we've been neglecting some other robots a little bit since we've been covering Mars 24/7, so let's get caught up on everything else that's been going on with today's Video Friday.

Also taking place last week was AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America in Las Vegas, and we heard that the expo hall was pretty wild this year. Lockheed Martin put together a highlight vid of some of the programs and systems that it featured this year, set to some music from The Matrix, if I'm not mistaken.



Ekso Bionics has introduced a new version of its rehab exoskeletion, featuring several new walking modes and a wireless sensing system.

Still no word on when we can expect a model that will turn us all into superheroes.

[ Ekso Bionics ]



Speaking of exoskeletons, this is a slightly less fancy version that a little girl named Emma uses to help her compensate for underdeveloped arms. The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (or WREX, no relation) is a 3D printed wearable framework with elastic bands that make Emma's arms weightless so that she can move them around: 

We're really looking forward to the day when 3D printers will be just another appliance that everyone will have at home, so that this kind of thing can be even easier to do.

[ Stratasys ]



Travis at Hizook got a tour of Artiaic a while back; it's a company that uses robots to create tile mosaics faster and more efficiently than humans can:

[ Artaic ] via [ Hizook ]



We've seen some great examples of how useful tails can be for fast-moving robots, so it makes perfect sense that if you're building a robotic cheetah (like MIT is), you'll want to give it a tail too. And it works, even when your robot is standing still:

[ MIT ]



And we'll finish up this week with a TED talk by Ken Goldberg from UC Berkeley on "4 Lessons from Robots about Being Human."

[ TEDxBerkeley ]

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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