I have to imagine that when you work at an industrial robotics company, it must be a lot of fun to come up with trade show demos. You can throw practicality and efficiency entirely out the window, and instead try and come up with the most entertaining thing that you possibly can, whether it's fighting with light sabers or battling humans with Wiimotes. So here's to you, Industrial Robot Demo Maker Person. We salute you, and your latest idea involving robots, slot cars, and Mario. And there's more, of course, because it's Video Friday.

Seriously, whoever at Denso Robotics had this idea needs a raise. And a promotion. And a medal.

[ Denso ] via [ Gizmodo ]



Out at Sandia National Labs last June, military robots took part in a Robot Rodeo, "a lively and challenging competition that draws civilian and military bomb squad teams from across the country to see who can most effectively defuse dangerous situations with the help of robots."

Via [ Sandia ]



We haven't heard a lot from Hanson Robotics recently, but they did just post this short video showing a montage of some of their past projects.

[ Hanson Robotics ]



3D Robotics recently released Iris, an easy to fly quadcopter with impressive autonomy and lots of camera options. Here's a teaser video showing the robot in flight:

Not bad for $730.

[ 3DR Iris ]



The Technical Committee on Mobile Manipulation (there is one of those) has an update on what's new in the mobile manipulation world:

[ Mobile Manipulation ]

Thanks Dejan!



Meet the least comfortable sofa ever, an art project by Jacob Tonski:

Tonski says that it's "a meditation on the nature of human relations, and the things we build to support them." In the opinion of this blogger, it's instead obviously a metaphor for the way sofas (even robotic ones) eventually fall over and smash into little bits when you try to balance them on one leg.

[ Creative Applications Network ] via [ PopSci ]



Teaching a robot to see (especially a robot that you've built yourself) is a tricky thing to do. CMUcam5 is an integrated vision system and processor that does a huge amount of the hard work for you. You can hook it up to an Arduino, and it'll simply send along the information that you care about, like the coordinates of an object of a given color.

It's been successfully funded on Kickstarter, and you can snag one for the next two weeks for $60.

[ Pixy ]



When we head to the DARPA Robotics Challenge in December, this is exactly what we're hoping to see:

[ OSRF ]



A ton of dirt is a ton of dirt. Astrobotics' Polaris rover prototype is not intimidated, however, and it proved it at NASA Glenn by autonomously excavating over 1000 kg of material in under an hour.

This rover (or rovers like it) may one day head to the Moon to start preparing it for human habitation.

[ Astrobotic Technology ]



RoboCup team B-Human shows us what it's like to play Standard Platform soccer, from the robot's point of view:

[ B-Human ]



We'll wrap up the week with a quartet of retro robot videos emailed to us by Melonee Wise of Unbounded Robotics, who is working on a robot that we now know can grasp "grasping cans" and may possess some sort of anti-gravity functionality. Anyway, until we meet Unbounded's robot of the future, we'll have to content ourselves with robots of the past.


Mr. Wizard vs. Hero 1:


Robart the Robot:


It's Omnibot!


How far we've come. And how far we haven't.

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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