The October 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Now that we’re well past the crazy couple of weeks of ICRA and DRC, what do we have to get excited about with robotics? Why, everything, of course! While these flagship events are always exciting, the great thing about robotics is that fascinating research and development continues all the time, non-stop, which is why we’re able to bring you these Friday posts full of robot videos every single week. So let’s do it.

iCub is awesome, we just wish we know why it looks so serious most of the time. This video doesn’t tackle that particular issue, but it does give a comprehensive 15 minute overview of the project, and towards the end (fast forward to 10:57) project leader Giorgio Metta describes what the researchers are planning for iCub 3.0, a new version of the robot:

iCub ]

The goal of the EARS (Embodied Audition for RobotS) project is exploring “new algorithms for enhancing the auditory capabilities of humanoid robots.” One of the robots the researchers are using is NAO, and in a recent demo Aldebaran Robotics showed how the little humanoid may soon join the hospitality industry.

[ EARS ]

Just two DRC videos this week; the first is from Team NimbRo showing us that they did have a method for climbing up stairs:

[ NimbRo ]

And here’s another overview video from KAIST showing their DRC practice runs:

[ KAIST ]

In case you were wondering why Rethink Robotics exists, here’s Rod Brooks explaining it in 52 seconds flat:

[ Rethink Robotics ]

José del R. Millán, Defitech Chair for non-invasive brain machine interfaces at EPFL, and Robert Leeb, from EPFL's Center for Neuroprosthetics, explain how people with disabilities can control telepresence robots or a wheelchair using only mental commands. A study published in June 2015 in the Proceedings of the IEEE shows that disabled people manage to take the control of a telepresence robot as precisely as valid persons.

[ TOBI Project ]

I suppose you could consider this a shameless plug for Neato Robotics since these videos are just ads, but they’re funny, or at the very least, weird:

For more, check out Neato’s YouTube channel.

[ Neato Robotics ]

Developed by Fraunhofer IPA, the prototype of an intelligent care cart provides both physical and informational support to care staff in their day-to-day work. This allows them more time to interact with patients or residents. The cart is equipped with numerous assistive features and can be connected to the call system of the care home or hospital. When a patient calls, the cart travels autonomously to the room in question. On arrival, the care staff can use the built-in touchscreen to confirm their presence and, having attended to the patient or resident, can free up the cart for its next assignment. The cart contains all the necessary care utensils and the care staff can use the display screen to record which utensils they have consumed.

It’s cool, but I think that you’re supposed to have an actual robot to call something a prototype, right?

[ Fraunhofer IPA ]

Cliff Stoll may look all crazy mad science, but his under-house robotic storage system for a bazillion Klein bottles is way cooler than yours:

[ Numberphile ]

Thanks Travis!

The FIREM project investigates the possibility of equipping an existing, remote-controlled wheel loader in the mining environment with modern fire-fighting technology. The goal is to rapidly start a firefighting effort without endangering the safety of the on-site response personnel, while waiting for the fire and rescue services to arrive. This final demonstration video is a simulation of what it could look like when a fire breaks out in a mine.

[ FIREM ]

The theme for this year’s RoboSub competition is derived from the “Back to the Future” movie trilogy, and McGill Robotics got way, way into it with their intro video:

I have no idea what just happened, but I love it.

[ RoboSub ]

One of the entries in the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering’s senior design project competition for this year was APRo, an application-based robotic platform designed for easy programming and hacking:

The prototype cost is $470, which includes the batteries and screen (it’s not running on a phone), suggesting that the final cost could be significantly lower. Lots of people have tried to do similar things without a huge amount of success, but APRo looks promising. And they took third place!

[ UPenn ]

We love seeing ROS tutorials from people who know what they’re talking about. Since you definitely don’t have anything better to do, see if you can follow along with these relatively basic (but still quite fast paced) ROS tutorials on getting started with ROS for drones:

[ Erle Robotics ] via [ ROS News ]

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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