The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Video Friday: Happy Easter, With Robots

In celebration of Easter (or something), we've got a whole warren of robot vids for you this Friday

2 min read
Video Friday: Happy Easter, With Robots

Robots, I guess, are really big on Easter. What has led me to this conclusion is the sheer volume of vids that have cropped up this week. So, let's just see how many videos (not all Easter related, by the way) we can cram into one single post. Aaaaaand, GO!

I think the TurtleBots at Clearpath Robotics need to have their dates reset, 'cause they're a wee bit early on the Easter egg hunt:

Unknown to the human employees at Clearpath, our robots decided it was high time they partook in the fun of Easter celebrations. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at work to find all available surfaces covered in eggs and an Easter egg hunt in full swing. In a characteristically cheeky move, one of our more personable TurtleBots took it upon itself to play Easter Bunny and hide eggs around the office for the other TurtleBots to find. The TurtleBots were thrilled and spent all morning locating and collecting eggs and only slightly disrupted the productivity of the human employees in their search. When one employee cautiously asked to join the egg hunt, the Easter Bunny TurtleBot made threatening gestures with its robotic arm and responded "bee-boop, bee, bip!" Clearly this event was meant for artificial intelligence only.

My question: what's in the eggs? LiPo batteries or something?


Zenta has been working on his Morphex spherical transforming hexapod thing, and in a minor miracle of creative programming and servo use, he's managed to get it to roll itself along the ground:

If you're impressed, consider tossing a vote Zenta's way to help him win the Boca Bearings 2012 Innovation Competition. 


We don't know who EDF Energy is, or anything about their Blue +Price Promise, but watch this promo video and see if you recognize the main character:

This as-yet unnamed cousin of Keepon will be showing up in a couple more ads over the next few weeks, and rumor* has it that in one of them, he gets eaten by a lion.

*A rumor I started just now.


Ever wanted to see a Qbo totally naked with its guts hanging out? Me neither, but this time-lapse video of a Qbo being constructed from scratch is pretty cool to watch:


UMass Lowell has an awesome robotics program, and they want you to know it. How do we know it's sweet? Because they've got a Microsoft Surface table to mess with:


My brother/nemesis Spencer* got a tour of the Navy's new Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research, which features a desert, a rainforest, and more than one place that's on fire:

*Spencer Ackerman and I are not actually related, unless there's something that Mom and Dad aren't telling me...


And what better way to wrap things up than with an animatronic tour of the inner workings of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (yes, it's an old vid but I first saw it this week and couldn't resist adding it here):

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?

Keep Reading ↓Show less