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Video Friday: iCub Rides a Roomba, PR2 Can Hear You Now, and ROBOGAMES!

National Robotics Week may be over, but around here it's always National Robotics Week, especially on Fridays

3 min read
Video Friday: iCub Rides a Roomba, PR2 Can Hear You Now, and ROBOGAMES!

You'd think that post-National Robotics Week, there'd be some sort of lull or something, where we'd all get to catch our breath and take a little break from robots for a few days. But no, that's not how it works. Robots are unstoppable, and they've been throwing awesome videos at us all week along.

Start your weekend off right by contributing to a good cause: Coralbots (currently a project on Kickstarter) is a way to potentially use robots to help repopulate coral reefs that have been damaged by the terrible terribleness of us humans:

I'll be the first to admit that the rewards aren't that enticing, and $107,000 is a lot of money. But, that's just what it's going to cost to equip a submersible robot with the manipulators, vision systems, and brains that it takes to replant coral. If the first test is a success, enough of these little bots may eventually be able to bring life back to dead reefs all over the world.

[ Coralbots on Kickstarter ]


iCub hasn't learned how to walk yet, so skip ahead to about 3:20 in this video to see how he gets around. Spoiler alert: GIANT ROOMBA!!!

[ RobotCub ]


You know what this weekend is, right?




Here's some of what you'll be missing if you wimp out and don't show up in San Mateo:

[ RoboGames ]

You'll see some of this kind of thing too:

[ Central Illinois Bot Brawl ]


Check out this demo video of a bunch of Lockheed Martin's unmanned aerial systems. As you watch it, think about how most of the smaller drones here are really not that much more advanced than a hobby-grade system that you can build out of open source parts. It's kind of amazing.

[ Lockheed Martin ]


This is brilliant: give some adorable little robots (called BlabDroids, apparently) cameras, and task them with filming their own documentary, asking questions of whoever decides to pick them up and chat with them:

Here's a preview of some of the footage, which will eventually be edited (by humans) into a short film:

Via [ Wired ]


SkySweeper is a novel design for a simple (and mostly 3D printed) cable and powerline inspection robot that costs under $1k and works like an elbow:

The only issue with this robot is the issue that you find with just about every powerline inspection robot: it has to somehow figure out a way to get around towers in order to be really useful. With a design this novel, though, we're optimistic that graduate student Nick Morozovsky will be able to figure something out.

[ UCSD Coordinated Robotics Lab ] via [ Physorg ]


We never, ever, ever get tired of watching robotic flapping wing insects fly around.


[ DelFly ]


We're not on Mars (yet), but Curiosity is! Here's your Curiosity Rover Report:

[ MSL ]


PR2 is not especially well known for its hearing. But cut the bot some slack- it just needs better ears. The 8Sounds and ManyEars project puts open source hardware and software together to endow PR2 (or any other robot running ROS) with an inexpensive array of eight microphones that can be used for sound localization:

[ Willow Garage ]


The best way to get a planetary rover to the top of a mountain is to fly it there. Meet ROVCopter (it's not actually called that), a UAV that can carry a rover up to a high altitude and then drop it off:

[ Tohoku University Space Robotics Lab ]


If you code a robot to create abstract art, does that make the art any less abstract? Or any less artistic? Watch BNJMN at work, and decide for yourself:

[ Interaktion ] via [ Gizmodo ]


And let's wrap things up with an excellent video on swarm robotics from the Natural Robotics Lab at the University of Sheffield:

[ Sheffield Natural Robotics Lab ]

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?

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