Video Friday: Dancing Robots and Rampant Stupidity

Whether it's disco dancing, traditional Japanese music, or near total uselessness, we've got robots doing it on video

1 min read
Video Friday: Dancing Robots and Rampant Stupidity

As often happens, it's Thursday night and I've got a slew jumble heap carefully selected assortment of robot videos that have shown up this week and I figured it would be a good idea to toss smush pile carefully present them in a post for Friday that you can enjoy without having to listen to me drone on about, you know, drones. Or whatever.

In the realm of dancing robots, researchers seem to pick the weirdest tunes to show off their latest programming tricks. I could delve into why I think that might be, but out of respect for the personal lives of all of these people who have clearly not been out of the lab since the mid-1970s, I'll keep quiet and just let you enjoy HDT Robotics' HDM robot dancing to some disco:

If that thing had a pelvis, it would be going crazy.

An entirely different (and more mature) style altogether is demonstrated by Azusa Amino's Toko Toko Maru robot, which took first place in the Robo Japan 2 Dance Contest on Sunday. Robot-Dreams brings the video:

And finally, we come to the rampant stupidity, and boy is it rampant. But that's the way we want it, because in October is another Bacarobo competition, where the stupidest, most useless robot wins a huge wad of cash. It's sort of like the Antimov Competition, except with more uselessness and less flaming death. Here's a video of some highlights from last year, which you'll enjoy slightly more if you can speak Hungarian:

Bacarobo 2011 takes place October 30 in Budapest.

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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
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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