The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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According to my (mind-bendingly sophisticated) calculations, in just two weeks from now, it'll officially be National Robotics Week in the United States. I'm mentioning this now because I'm assuming that you're very busy and important, and that you'll need that much lead time to make it to all of the activities. All of them. Road trip!

To get you pumped up, here's the week's worth of robot vids.

MorpHex MKII has somehow ingested even more servos, and is DEATH to smiling yellow balloons. Also, it rolls.

[ Zenta ]

We saw a demo like this with industrial robots and slot cars at IREX, but somehow, little trains are a heck of a lot more fun:

Via [ Gizmodo ]

SenseFly's eBee map-making drone has made a lovely map of, um, some rocky canyon-y place that does a lovely job of being three dimensional:

That is one cool mesh right there. Damn.

[ SenseFly ]

Are you ready to be swarmed by robot insects? Time to DASH!

[ DASH Robotics ]

Team BlackSheep took their FPV flying robots to Hong Kong. We're especially interested in this, because we'll be in Hong Kong in just a few months for ICRA 2014.

[ Team BlackSheep ]

Isn't it great that robots can learn how to be flawless at a task by watching humans fail at it over and over?

This video presents an imitation learning approach for a fluid pouring task, which consists of grasping a bottle containing a fluid and pouring a specified amount of the fluid into a container placed on a rotating table. The robot learns how to do this task from human demonstrations. In addition to learning from successful demonstrations, our approach allows learning from errors made by humans and how they recovered from these errors in subsequent trials. We report experimental results consisting of a 5 DOF robot using the learned parameters to successfully perform the pouring task to illustrate our approach.

[ Maryland Robotics Center ]

UMD's Robo Raven has nearly doubled the number of solar cells on its wings. We don't have any hard numbers on performance improvements, except for "more power than ever before."

[ UMD ]


[ Crabster CR200 ]

I know it just looks like a lot of featureless snow and ice, and it is, but this is what the South Pole looks like, I guess. And someone bothered to lug an AR Drone out there to fly it around:

[ Parrot ]

Continuing with our two-video theme of robots flying in cold places, here's a drone flying through some spectacular ice caves:

And a little behind the scenes:

[ Firefight Films ]

We'll finish the week with a TED Talk featuring Edward Snowden, which has a place in our Video Friday because he gives it on stage in Vancouver, Canada, from somewhere in Russia, through a Suitable Technologies Beam Pro:

This sort of politics isn't really the purview of this blog, but we will mention that the NSA has a response to Edward Snowden's talk in a TED Talk of their own, here.

[ TED ]

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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