This time next week, we'll be on our way to a swanky five star beach resort in Portugal. Is this the vacation that we deserve after months and months of non-stop robotics news? NO. IT'S NOT. NO VACATIONS. This is IROS, the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Last year it was held in San Francisco, and this year, we're heading to the Algarve, on the southern coast of Portugal just west of Spain and north of Africa. Don't worry, though: we'll be lucky if we manage to set even one single foot on the beach with all the robot stuff we'll have to cover. It's gonna be awesome. 

Meanwhile, since we haven't packed up and headed off to Europe just yet, it's time for VIDEOS!

One of the highlights this week comes from ETH Zurich, courtesy RoboHub, a brand new robotics... Er... Hub... That you should totally check out. This video shows a trio of quadrotors throwing and catching a ball with a net, which is a pretty neat trick.

What I love most about this is that they didn't bother to try and mount a hoop somewhere, they just used  a pair of quadrotors instead. "Nails? Who needs nails? We have robot helicopters!"

[ Flying Machine Arena ] via [ RoboHub ]



Also from RoboHub is this microlecture (one of the features of the site) about how to make a robot dog. It's easy! A warning, though: there may be explosions.

Via [ RoboHub ]



Got a plant? Believe me: your plant wants a robot like this one, which keeps it in the absolute best light possible.

[ Instructables ] via [ Treehugger ]



One reason to make a remote control cyborg cockroach is to be able to carry around cameras and microphones to search for people after earthquakes. Another reason to make a remote control cyborg cockroach is so that you can push a button and make it go far, far away from you.

Yes, kids, you can try this at home.

Via [ SciAm ]



This is what happens when you crowd fund a video about robots in the future produced by an open-source 3D rendering tool: pure amazingness. It's 12 minutes. Watch the whole thing.

[ Tears of Steel ]



To finish up this week, here's a demo of that new Partner Robot from Toyota at HCR 2012. It's fairly comprehensive at over nine minutes long, and it's all in Japanese, but you can get a good sense of how the robot operates along with a few glimpses of its control interface.

[ Toyota ]

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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