Video Friday: Droneapult Launch, Robot Rope Ascender, and Spock vs. Spock

We've still got lots of news from ICRA, but not today, since it's Video Friday!

3 min read
Video Friday: Droneapult Launch, Robot Rope Ascender, and Spock vs. Spock

These last couple weeks have been crammed full of more robots than humans like us can reasonably be expected to handle. So, you'll have to forgive us while we wade through massive amounts of incredibly extraordinarily SUPER COOL robot stuff, and you can expect several weeks worth of brand new stuff from ICRA and more. That's not happening today, though, because of course today is Video Friday!

One of the highlights of the week this week was a Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) launching from an aircraft carrier. We've seen this thing launch from a simulated carrier (using a real catapult), but somehow, watching it fly off of a giant boat into the wild blue yonder and then make a coffee-spill-inducing pass back over the deck makes it real:

Of course, the tricky (trickier) part, still to be demonstrated, is landing on the carrier (the drone in the video above landed at a naval base in Maryland). In a previous test, the X-47B managed to catch an arresting cable on land in practice, but doing on a ship that's moving around enough to make people like me seasick is another matter entirely. 

Via [ FlightGlobal ]

ROS Industrial is celebrating its oneyeariversary, and they've put together this video montage to celebrate:

[ ROS Industrial ]

That skittery little STAR robot from UC Berkeley can carry a camera along with it, and here's what it sees:

[  Biomimetic Millisystems Lab ]

Humanoid robot soccer may get all the press, but my favorite RoboCup league is the Small Size, because it's awesome:

[ CMDragons ]

The Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory has been experimenting with using clay as a medium for controlling swarms of robots:

The best part? The control system is edible! Yum!

[ GRITS Lab ]

Personally, I've never had an issue with a PR2 invading my space (in a bad way), but if you have, there's now a new upgrade to the ROS navigation stack that helps robots freak you out less:

David Lu, we should point out, is also responsible for 15 seconds worth of Star Wars Uncut, aka What You Do In Your Free Time When You Have Access To A PR2.

[ Willow Garage ]

Flying robots? We don't need no flying robots! Give a Husky a powered rope ascender, and it has no trouble climbing near-vertical surfaces:

Eventually, the robot will be able to clamber around on its own, autonomously navigating and building 3D models as it goes. Now, how about we try it with a Grizzly?


Here's your Mars Science Laboratory rover update, with an explanation of how the drilling system handles sample material, provided by a dude in dark sunglasses who seems to be wearing a James Bond shirt. MSL is getting ready to drill into her second piece of Mars rock:

[ MSL ]

Robot ethics expert Kate Darling was in Germany last week but somehow not at ICRA. Kate was giving a talk on the emerging ethical issues involving our social interactions with robots:

[ re:publica 13 ]

Okay, this is an ad, and it has nothing to do with robotics. But, hey, it features two Mister Spocks, and there is a robot in it, at the end, and that gives us a good enough excuse to post it:

Image: Audi

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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