The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Video Friday: Hubo and Valves, UAVs and Lasers, and One Very Lucky Parrot

What do parrots, beer, lasers, and a guy in a yellow vest have in common? Robot videos!

2 min read
Video Friday: Hubo and Valves, UAVs and Lasers, and One Very Lucky Parrot

Yes. It's Friday again. You've made it to the end of yet another week, and that's earned you a Video Friday that's all about robots. We know, if it wasn't for Video Friday, you'd just give up on your job and your friends and your family and move to Mongolia, where you'd spend your time designing robots out of twigs and grass that can operate on nothing more than the pungent power of fermented yak's milk. As much as we love Mongolia (and we really do love Mongolia), we wouldn't want that to happen to you, which is why we provide Video Friday as a service to your sanity and well-being. No need to thank us, it's just part of our job.

Last week, we covered CyPhy Work's new family of tethered surveillance drones. Not to be outdone, Lasermotive has posted this video of their tethered drone, except instead of running on electricity directly, it runs using solar panels and laser light piped through a fiber optic cable.

[ LaserMotive ]



Now that the X-47B UCAS has found its way onto an aircraft carrier, it's time to see how she handles on deck. Note the dude in the video with the fancy remote control who's actually driving the aircraft around.

That thing still looks like it's computer generated to me, and I've seen it in person. Geez. Talk about sci-fi, right?

[ X-47B ]



TurtleBots are cheap, but they're not that cheap. Robert Linsalata interned at Willow Garage over the summer, working with a small embedded processor that'll run ROS and power a TurtleBot at about 80% of the performance for less than half the cost. Plus, it can be charged directly through the Create's dock.

[ TurtleCore ]



Hey look, Hubo is learning how to turn a valve! I wonder why that is...

[ Drexel ]



Here's a short clip from a youBot hackathon, where a dual-armed 'bot was taught to write its own name. How cute!

[ youBot Hackathon ]



Want to make a parrot happy through robotics? Try this:

[ Bird Buggy ]



This art project is called "5 Robots Named Paul drawing Nino." It consists of five robots, named Paul, drawing a human named Nino.

By Patrick Tresset.



Drink Runner is "a line-following service robot that delivers individuals drinks in total darkness non-stop for up to 4 hours per charge."

Drink Runner is on Kickstarter right now (or at least, is was for a time, the page seems to have vanished), and a $200 pledge (which strikes me as rather steep for a line-follower) will get you one robot.

[ Linebot ]



We'll close out the week with an update on SPHERES, which are little robots up on the ISS that can wander around using CO2 jets, with Nexus S phones for brains.

"NASA Public Affairs Officer Brandi Dean talks with Terry Fong, Telerobotics Project Manager, about how the Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, are being used for a Human Exploration Telerobotics test."


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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