The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Video Friday: Quadcopter Slalom, RoboBrrds, and Acrobat Robot Sticks the Dismount

Thanks to a GoPro, we get on board a quadrotor while it flies through an obstacle course

2 min read
Video Friday: Quadcopter Slalom, RoboBrrds, and Acrobat Robot Sticks the Dismount

Now this looks like fun: some roboticists at ETH Zurich plopped a GoPro onto a quadrotor and taught it to zip through a slalom course. We've got video of that, plus RoboBrrd on Indiegogo, a robot gymnast that's better than you. AND MORE, for this week's Video Friday.

On a side note, by the time you read this I'll be lying on a beach somewhere in Indonesia, where I'll spend the next few weeks trying very hard not to be a blogger. Erico and some guest writers should be in and out to keep things rolling, and I'll be back right after Thanksgiving, at which point I'll likely be trying to figure out if it's possible to write about robots while suffering from malaria.

Anyhoo, on to the vids!



We shouldn't say that some roboticists at ETH Zurich taught a quadrotor to navigate a slalom course, because it's more like they taught it a learning algorithm than allowed it to teach itself:

After just ten sessions, the robot has figured out the optimal steering commands to negotiate whatever obstacle course you've given it. Also, I love it when robot videos show what happens when things don't quite work as well as they might have: thanks for putting in some crashes, guys! 

Via [ RoboHub ]



Erin Kennedy's RoboBrrd is now on Indiegogo! Woohoo!

We've seen these things in action, and kids absolutely love them. It's a great way to get started on both the hardware and software of robotics, and you can get the entire kit for a ridiculously low $114. This includes the RoboBrrd chassis plus all the electronics, leaving plenty of room for some creative decoration. The Indiegogo campaign is currently over 60%, and we're pretty sure it'll get funded, so get in early to get yourself a brrd.

[ RoboBrrd ]



It's awesome to see that there are now a whole bunch of companies and research institutions working on exoskeletons, and one of the latest is Vanderbilt University:

The advantages of the Vanderbilt exoskeleton include low bulk (you can wear it while in a wheelchair), light weight (just 27 pounds), and an unspecified but "more affordable" cost, which should put make this technology more accessible for both insurance companies and individuals.

Via [ Vanderbilt ]



According to Wikipedia, the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programmable drum machines, from back in the '80s. Moritz Simon Geist made this incredible real live robotic version:

[ MR-808 ] via [ BB ]



Hinamitetu’s robot gymnast is back, and it STICKS THE DISMOUNT:

And there was much rejoicing!



Since we're pretty sure that you don't want to hear any more Gangnam style, here's a series of ads for MyKeepon that'll be airing over in the U.K. in time for whatever holidays they celebrate over there.

I love the Keepon snooze alarm. I want one.



Finally this week, here's a beautifully shot mini documentary on the iCub project and other European artificial intelligence initiatives:

Via [ Plastic Pals ]

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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