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Video Friday: Erica the Android, Autonomous Drifting, and Birds Don't Like Drones
Photo: Osaka University

Now that it’s solidly in the middle of August, it’s a perfect time to remind you of some of the robotics events coming up at the end of the summer. First, there’s RoboBusiness in San Jose, Calif., September 23 and 24, featuring high profile keynotes from IBM’s Rob High (CTO of the Watson program) as well as Google’s Ray Kurzweil. Immediately afterwards, you’ll want to hop on a plane to Germany, for IROS 2015, in Hamburg, Germany, followed by ROSCon right next door. And if that’s not enough robotics for you, well, you should probably get therapy.

To get your fix today, though, we have plenty of robot videos, none of which require international travel.

I’m not sure why the world needs more lifelike androids, but if there’s one thing I am sure of, it’s that Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro does whatever he wants:

What’s worth focusing on here is probably Erica’s non-verbal actions: while listening, she moves her eyes and head and blinks and does all of the other things that we do all the time unconsciously. Her speech has apparently also improved, and the speed and content of her conversation is certainly much better than previous androids like Geminoid F

[ Erica ] via [ Mashable ]

People look at autonomous cars and often aren’t impressed with their overly sedate and safe driving. But this—this is impressive:

Google? Tesla? Somebody? Please?

[ MIT AeroAstro ]

Also impressive, but slightly less impressive because I’m not entirely convinced that it’s real.

I’m not seeing any obvious sensors on the stroller, and I'm pretty sure that adaptive cruise is radar-based, and even if it could follow a human, I’m 99 percent sure that it would freak out when a second human runs right past, straight at the stroller, at about a minute in.

Via [ Gizmodo ]

Here’s an easy way to make your Baxter significantly more capable and ridiculously more expensive: a fully dexterous hand from the Shadow Robot Company:

[ Shadow Robot Company ]

Not all robots need fancy hands to get work done, especially when you have nice and neat rows of little white boxes to pick from:

[ FANUC ]

And here’s how the pros do fulfillment:

Via [ Dallas News ]

Windows 10 IoT Core now runs on the Raspberry Pi 2, which means you can use Windows to do something fun for a change, like making a robotic air hockey table:

Should it surprise anyone that birds really, really don’t like drones?

Via [ Polygon ]

And this is why I miss living in Boston:

[ MIT ]

NAO isn’t quite as talented as DARWIN at DDR, but it’s a start:

And there’s more!

“Victory located within reachability map.” I’m going to steal that.

Also, I couldn’t find the “spin the bottle” game on YouTube, which (all things considered) might be for the best.

[ University of Bonn HRL ]

I don’t have much additional information on this video, but I desperately need to implement this behavior on my TurtleBot:

[ smARTLab ]

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered a new way to improve human and robot safety in manufacturing scenarios by developing a method for robots to project their next action into the 3D world and onto any moving object, such as car parts on an assembly line.

[ Georgia Tech ]

ExoAtlet is the first Russian-designed rehabilitation exoskeleton. Eventually, patients using the exoskeleton will be able to sit, stand, walk, and even handle stairs completely independently. A year of clinical trials is underway, which is pretty good since it's only a year ago that the exoskeleton was just a prototype.

[ ExoAtlet ] via [ RoboHub ]

I know this is Video Friday and not Audio Friday, but let’s try something that you can listen to while pretending to do work. Harvard’s Wyss Institute has a series of podcasts on bioinspired robotics, featuring chats with Radhika Nagpal on swarm robotics, Robert Wood on popup and soft robots, and Conor Walsh on wearable robotics.

[iframe https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214818492&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=300 width="100%"]

[iframe https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214823368&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=300 width="100%"]

[iframe https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214818375&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=300 width="100%"]

[ Wyss Podcast ]

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
Horizontal
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
DarkGray

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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