Video Friday: Humanoid Goes Swimming, a Last Moment Robot, and R2D2 Sells You a Prius

A half scale humanoid swimmer takes on R2D2 as a car salesbot in this week's Video Friday

2 min read
Video Friday: Humanoid Goes Swimming, a Last Moment Robot, and R2D2 Sells You a Prius

Believe it or not, we still have ICRA posts in the works, and there's all kinds of other long-term awesome stuff going on around here that we'd love to tell you about but can't (HA!). But rest assured, we're now more optimistic about robotics than we've ever been before. Today's Video Friday, however, has absolutely nothing to do with any of that.

Incidentally, if you spot anything particularly cool that you think belongs in a Video Friday (or deserves a post all on its own), get in touch! We're on Twitter, Facebook, and you can even email us if you hate social networking. Meantime, on to the videos!

Plastic Pals has the scoop on a swimming humanoid robot from Japan called SWUMANOID. The robot uses 20 waterproof motors and is half-scale to a real human, but that doesn't stop it from reproducing the crawl, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, dog paddling, and treading water.

The goal here is for the robot to help researchers analyze different swimming techniques and equipment, as opposed to designing a robot to outswim humans or something like that. The fact is, humans are really not built for swimming, and if you're gonna design a robot from scratch to be fast and efficient in the water, you'd be better off emulating a fish or something. 

Via [ Plastic Pals ]


This art project is entitled "File>Save>Intimacy." Rhode Island School of Design masters student Dan Chen created a "Last Moment Robot" (partially inspired by the therapeutic seal robot Paro) to comfort people who would otherwise be dying alone.

"The process of dying is probably the most vulnerable moment of a human life – a moment in which one seeks the reassurance of human connection. In this installation, human presence is replaced with a robot, questioning the quality of intimacy without humanity."

[ Dan Chen ]


EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) has been developing a method of reestablishing nerve connections with drugs, and they're using a robot to help test out their research on cute little ratties:

Via [ Tech Review ]


Daniel H. Wilson, author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising, Robopocalypse, and (most recently) Amped, shares his vision of the future for humans with cybernetic implants:


R2D2 and C3PO, who I guess we have to assume are plug-in robots, are apparently pushing the plug-in hybrid version of the Toyota Prius in Japan:

According to a translation provided by GreenCarReports, the conversation between the two robots consists mostly of C3PO going on about how cool the plug-in charging is, and R2D2 responding with a heavily accented "beep boop!"

Thanks John!


And finally, SmartBird comes to New York City. We've written about SmarBird every time this robotic seagulltakes flight, so this time it won't be different: Here's the robo-bird flying at the NYU Poly campus in Brooklyn during the World Science Festival.

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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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