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Video Friday: PR2 Surrogates, Zombie F-16s, and Bot & Dolly's Box

Put yourself into the body of a robot: learn how, it's Video Friday

3 min read
Video Friday: PR2 Surrogates, Zombie F-16s, and Bot & Dolly's Box

Deep down inside, I think I might want to be a robot. It's a distinct possibility, anyway. I mean, it would explain a lot about this borderline unhealthy obsession that I've got going on, right? Immersive virtual reality is very close to making that all possible, and all you need is a little bit of hardware. See how it works in today's Video Friday.

By "a little bit of hardware," we're talking about a Razer Hydra and an Oculus Rift. Oh, um, and you'll also need a PR2. But it's totally worth it, man. Totally worth it.

The only problem with this is that you don't get to blame the robot anymore: now, if your PR2 surrogate can't play chess, it's your own darn fault for being too clumsy.

[ PR2 Surrogate ]

Thanks Tim & Tully!



Boeing has demothballed some F-16 that have been in storage for the last 15 years, and zombified them into fully armed and operational remote-controlled pilotless robotic aircraft:


Pop-up video style:

This seems totally cool, and then you remember that these roboplanes exist to get blown out of the sky. Is that better than a lonely life out in the desert, or worse?

[ Boeing QF-16 ]



We're counting down to the DARPA Robotics Challenge, and it's getting to the point where we don't have much counting left to do. In just about two and a half months, it'll be go time, and teams have been working hard. Here's some new footage from Team THOR:


[ Team THOR ]



Why does Grant Imahara like Sphero 2.0? Most of the same reasons that we do, it turns out:

[ Sphero 2.0 ]



This is one of the better examples that we've seen recently of a situation in which Baxter can be highly effective in a factory setting:

It's true that the robot isn't particularly fast, but not needing to eat food, take breaks, sleep, or get paid kind of evens things out.

[ Rethink Robotics ]



Robotic hands have always been expensive, because making a hand that mimics the grasping capabilities that humans have (especially with anthropomorphic designs) tends to be very complicated. The Open Hand Project leverages 3D printing and an open source philosophy to make a fully articulated hand for under $1,000. This could be huge for the developing world, where access to sophisticated prosthetics is severely limited.

The Open Hand Project needs your help on Indiegogo right now; see if the video can convince you that it's worthy of your support.

[ Indiegogo ] via [ Open Hand Project ]

Thanks Joel!



We got a little taste of Bot & Dolly's projection mapping cleverness at the Robot Film Festival a few months ago, but we had absolutely no idea that they were working on this. All of what you're about to see was captured in camera, meaning that there's no CGI, just synchronized robots and projectors and flat screens.

[ Box ]



This'll be a new one for Video Friday: it's a scheduled live stream of a seminar from CMU that'll start this afternoon about their RoboCup Small-Size team. Small-Size is my favorite (or second favorite) league; instead of trying to make humanoid robots play soccer, Small-Size is all about making the best little soccer playing robot possible, and they're fast and smart and awesome.

Hopefully, once the presentation ends, it'll stick around on YouTube as a regular video. Hopefully. We'll see what happens.

[ CMU Robotics ]



Our last something-to-spend-an-hour-on-that's-not-work video this week is the story of young Australian roboticists who travel to New Hampshire for a FIRST competition. Appropriately, it's called I, Wombot.

In January 2010, Australia rounded up its first team of high school students to compete in the international FIRST Robotics Competition. Teenagers with no engineering experience were set the task of building a fully functioning robot in 6 weeks and taking it to New Hampshire, U.S.A., to compete in a form of robot-soccer. 5 young filmmakers tracked the team's journey, from the early stages of design to the awards ceremony overseas.

[ I, Wombot ]

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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