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Video Friday: Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots' Robots, Quadcyclorotors, and a Liquid That Thinks

Robots that use robots to battle humans using robots? Obviously, the apocalypse is nigh

3 min read
Video Friday: Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots' Robots, Quadcyclorotors, and a Liquid That Thinks

Yes, it's robot versus human at Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. This. Changes. Everything. It's a potentially deadly robotic metaburrito of meta-ness, now that humans have created robots that use robots to battle humans using robots. The Mayans were obviously right: the apocalypse has begun. So really, we don't even need to do a Video Friday, since by the time you'll read this you'll be a slave of either the Red Rocker or the Blue Bomber and your brain will probably have been replaced with a dollop of lukewarm tapioca. But in order to better serve our potential robot masters, we here are IEEE Spectrum are feel not just obligated but proud to be the new mouthpiece of the robotic propaganda machine. Huzzah!

You can probably guess the outcome of this deathmatch, since we're a robot blog, and not a human blog:

The video description says that this Fanuc M-20iA is "friendly," but we don't buy it for a nanosecond.

[ Synaptic Robotics ]



We're huge fans (ha!) of the University of Maryland's innovative cyclocopter, and  Dr. Moble Benedict wrote in to share a new video of their latest quadcyclorotor in action, with this note: "I think it is the first pure cyclocopter (entire thrust from cyclorotors) to perform stable controlled flight since its inception 100 years ago."

Just to recap: this thing is using blades like a helicopter, except rotating around a horizontal axis as opposed to a vertical one. You get a bit more thrust and maneuverability in exchange for a spectacularly complex rotor system, but as the video shows, it works quite well in practice, and we're looking forward to its continuing development.

[ UMD ]



Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have been working on their very own robotic swarm:

The design seems very similar to Kilobots, with the same sort of movement, and what looks to be similar charging and communications as well. Called "Droplets," these robots are intended to be scaled up into some sort of "liquid that thinks," which is a vaguely scary thought.

[ CU Boulder ]



I'm gonna level with you: I know nothing about football. Or rather, I know lots about football, but it's the kind that the rest of the world plays, not the kind that seems to be popular here in the States. I'm just weird like that I guess, but that's fine with iRobot, since they don't need to convince me that Roombas are cool:

Er, so I guess that dude plays football for the New England Patriots? Which is a football team? In New England? Yeah, that's about all I got.

[ iRobot ]



Earlier this year, CMU's "Herb" robot butler figured out to microwave frozen food so that I don't even have to get up off the couch anymore. Now Herb has been promoted (I guess?) from butler to librarian:

[ CMU Personal Robotics ]



Making a humanoid robot that can walk is hard. But you know what? How about we just fulfill Dean Kamen's vision, skip walking completely, and just go straight for the Segway:

This is Tulip, a humanoid robot from the University of Twente that's designed to play soccer. We know, playing soccer on a Segway isn't technically legal, but that's why they invented Segway polo.

[ University of Twente ]



This video from MIT's biomimetics lab, and there's no information with it, but we're betting that it's got something to do with that robot cheetah that they've been working on.

I love how lifelike that is, and I can't wait to see the real robot performing similar gaits.

[ MIT Biomimetics ]



Lastly, we've got this piece from the Philadelphia Enquirer on UPenn's Robockey competition:

The entire piece is worth a read (it's not that long), and you'll find it at the link below.

[ Philadelphia Enquirer ]

[ UPenn Robockey ]

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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