Happy belated Video Friday! We're running late today, and this is totally, completely Evan's fault. Evan, if you're reading this, dude, who said you could go on vacation and take time off from the blog? Wait a minute. Er, now I remember, you told me about your vacation like a month ago, and I agreed to keep things going until you return. Alright. Just come back soon. We're scrambling here, man. Please.

Run, robot, run! OutRunner is a bio-inspired legged robot that can reach speeds up to 32 kilometers per hour (20 miles per hour). It's self-balancing and has a battery life of 2 hours, and you control it with a smartphone. It was created by Robotics Unlimited, a spin-off of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Florida, and they've just launched a Kickstarter campaign to get lots of OutRunners out in the world.

Thanks Sebastien!

[ OutRunner ]

 

 

Silicon Valley Robotics and Robohub announced this week the six finalists of their Robot Launch startup competition. They are a varied bunch and include infrastructure inspection robots, educational robotic platforms, and others. One of them is GimBall, a robust flying robot whose predecessor, AirBurr, we've featured in the blog before. Below are two other projects we found interesting: The first is a robotic fish that can supposedly swim among real fish, and the second is a Baxter mounted on a powered wheelchair that might help people with limited mobility to perform daily tasks. Head out to Robohub to vote for your favorites.

[ Robohub ]

 

 

This week, Kirobo, the adorable little humanoid that Japan sent to the International Space Station, bid farewell to Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who's preparing to leave the ISS after a six month mission. During his time at the station, Wakata performed a number of human-robot interaction experiments with Kirobo, which is learning to understand natural language and come up with appropriate responses. When Wakata said he was sorry for leaving Kirobo behind, the robot replied, "I'll be alright. I'm a robot". Kirobo will return to Earth at the end of this year.

Via [ Telegraph ]

 

 

Meanwhile, here on Planet Earth, the team at Astrobotic continues to make progress on their quest to put a mobile robot on the moon. Here they show a test of their autonomous lander.

[ Astrobotic ]

 

 

We just spotted this video and we don't quite know what's going on here, but whatever the robot is saying, we agree with him!

Bram Vanderborght ]

 

 

Remember those awesome Japanese lanterns with robotic legs? Looks like they have escaped from their garden and are on the loose, walking on the streets for the delight of amused passersby.

[ Alvaro Cassinelli ]

 

 

Dean Kamen's advanced bionic arm, which he developed with support from DARPA, has been approved for commercialization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Yesterday DARPA released a short video showing Fred Downs, a veteran of the Vietnam War who lost his left arm to a landmine, using the robotic prosthesis to help him peel a carrot. DARPA says Downs offered valuable feedback on how to refine the robotic arm for amputees.

[ DARPA ]

 

 

The video below doesn't show much, but the project is a very remarkable one. Brazilian researchers led by professor Rodrigo Guerra at the Federal University of Santa Maria, are developing a low-cost telepresence robot that will let children undergoing cancer treatment to interact with parents, doctors, and other kids. The robot is particularly useful when children are in isolation due to their treatment or after surgery. The researchers plan to make the robot shorter and more child-friendly, and they also want to add arms, so it can give and receive hugs.

[ Rodrigo Guerra ]

 

 

Let's end with some music, shall we? This video was actually posted late last month, during the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, Miss. Musician Will.i.am, who's been helping Dean Kamen promote FIRST since 2011, had a surprise for the crowd, performing a variation of "Hall of Fame" with some very geeky lyrics.

[ YouTube ]

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
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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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