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Video Friday: Murata Cheerleaders, Soft Robotics, and ROSCon

We'll get you all caught up on robot videos from the last few weeks

3 min read
Video Friday: Murata Cheerleaders, Soft Robotics, and ROSCon
Image: Murata

Once again, we managed to survive IROS. And you know what that means... Time to start preparing for ICRA 2015 in May in Seattle—w00t! But having a few months off is not the worst thing ever, since by "off" we only mean catching up with everything else going on in the wide wide world of robotics. Let's get to it.

Despite the fact that Murata has a pair of very sophisticated little humanoid(ish) robots, they're not really in the business of making robots at all. Rather, they make things (like robots) in order to show off their skills at making component-y things. Not that we care, really, because whenever they introduce something new, it's almost always guaranteed to be fun. Like these robotic cheerleaders!

According to the FAQ on the Murata website, the cheerleaders are "elementary school students full of energy and curiosity" and can move at about 30 cm/s, "probably the fastest of any robot ever!" Or not!

[ Murata ]

Harvard doesn't have to work very hard to sell us on why soft robots are so cool. Instead, they're working hard to make soft robotics more accessible to people, by putting together an open source toolkit that'll help you put a soft robot together for yourself:

[ Soft Robotics Toolkit ]

This Adept Quattro is not only fast in handling the fish but it is also measuring their electrical resistance to detect the presence of caviar:

[ Adept ]

The Human Exploration Telerobotics project, managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is developing and testing robots to improve the way humans live and work in space. Some of the project's robots have human-like "hands" and "legs" while others have wheels or are small, free-flying satellites. All have the potential to help astronauts reduce the amount of time they spend on routine maintenance tasks; to safely and quickly make repairs outside the spacecraft; or to remotely explore and work on a planet or asteroid's surface.


How ridiculous can delivery drones get? This. This ridiculous.

Flite Test ]

This is not the first mobile 3D printing robot on the scene, but it is a simple and elegant implementation, as long as you're primarily interested in simple structures:

[ LIFE ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Inspired by UC Berkeley's STAR robot, Billy, the blue beetle is a hexapod robot that can be mostly entirely (mostly) entirely 3D printed, mostly.

Just don't teach that robot 3D printer how to do this. That would cause some real trouble.


Later this month, Singapore will host AUVSI Foundation's Maritime RobotX Challenge for autonomous surface vessels:

[ Maritime RobotX Challenge ]

Northrop Grumman's MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance platform made its first cross country trip earlier this month. The video is a bit of a non-event, except that it gives you a good sense of how enormous these aircraft are; with a wingspan of 130 feet, they're substantially bigger than their Global Hawk precursors.

[ Triton ]

Coming at you direct from a fresh drill hole at the base of Mt. Sharp, it's the latest Curiosity Rover Report:

[ MSL ]

If you weren't at ROSCon last week, shame on you, but the organizers were kind enough to record everything and then throw the lot up online for your enjoyment. We won't post it all here (the link below will take you to the complete set of talks), just these five special selections:

Brian Gerkey: Opening Remarks

Lightning Talks 1

Allison Thackston: ROS in Space

Lightning Talks 2

Ryan Gariepy: Closing remarks

[ OSRF Vimeo ]

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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