Enjoy these lighthearted and fun robotics videos while you can, because we're slowly but surely creeping up on IROS and IREX. As of November third, it's going to be all serious business, as we embrace insanity by attempting to bring you one of the world's largest research robotics conferences and the world's largest robot exhibition at the same time. We have just three more Fridays to psych ourselves up for this task, but it's not quite time to panic just yet, so let's start things off with today with a nice, friendly robot ape.

iStruct, that robotic ape from DFKI in Germany, can now stand up on its hind legs, making the transition from quadruped to biped that took humans like a million years to successfully pull off:

Somebody needs to enter this thing into the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

[ DFKI ]

Thanks Daniela!



Watching these grit-blasting robots hard at work cleaning old paint out of the inside the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it's hard to imagine that this is a task that would otherwise be done by humans. It took six years to teach these robots how to do this, but they're now autonomous, able to map, plan, and operate in unstructured environments:

The robot is connected to a local power source and placed in position, and then scans the area it needs to clean. It creates a 3D map of the area and then works out exactly where it needs to position itself and how much force its grit-blasting arm needs before it starts methodically stripping paint from the steelwork. As it works, it moves along on a length of rail line inside one of the scaffolding bays suspended under the bridge.
 It’s hoped the next generation of robots will be able to communicate with other robots doing the same work, working back-to-back on the grit-blasting.

[ Sabre Autonomous Solutions ]

Thanks Greg!



iRobot has sold ten million robots worldwide. Considering how hard it is to convince anyone to buy robots, that's a stupendously huge number. Here's to the next ten hundred million billion!

[ iRobot ]



For Video Friday last week, we wrote about Astrobotic's Tyrobot, a cable travelling robot designed to explore caves and lava tubes on the Moon and other planets. This video shows a version of Tyrobot that can lower a little platform and deploy a rover, retrieving it when the exploration is complete.

[ Astrobotic ]



I will admit to not always entirely understanding Prallplatte's videos. But as far as I can tell, understanding is not necessary, just appreciation.

Via [ YouTube ]



Car racing not violent enough for you? Anki Drive will be including a "Battle Mode," and here's a preview:

[ Anki ]



Rethink's Baxter (the research version) has been busy grasping stuff at WPI with the assistance of a soft silicon hand: 

Meet Dmitry Berenson, robotics researcher and assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Professor Berenson and his team at the Autonomous Robotics Collaboration (ARC) Lab at WPI focus on how to get autonomous robots to interact with people and their environments. As part of their work, the research team has created a silicon hand for Baxter to grasp objects.


[ Baxter Research ]



Today in Robots Doing Mundane Things, we have three examples of how to needlessly and awesomely complicate your life. First, coffee:

Yes, that is a robot operating a coffee robot. 

[ Focus Integration ] via [ Geekologie ]


Once you're all caffeinated, you can write that robot a thank-you note, by using an app to instruct a different robot to write (and mail) a thank-you note for you:

And all it'll cost you is $5.

[ Bond Gifts ] via [ Ars ]


Finally, if you're the sort of person who makes the rest of us look bad by making thank-you notes into art, you may be interested in this art project by ABB. Industrial robots in London and Berlin replicate exactly, in real time, the drawings of human artist Alex Kiessling in Vienna.

Via [ ABB ]



EMYS is one of the cutest robots ever, and it's just gotten even more capable with Kinect and Internet integration;




The has been developing a badass UAV called Barracuda. It's not specifically built for combat, but it sure looks dangerous, doesn't it?

[ EADS Barracuda ]



AUVSI's Maritime RobotX Challenge takes place in a few weeks in Singapore, and these aren't your typical robotic boats:

[ Maritime RobotX Challenge ]



Here's a report on that Crabster robot, courtesy of the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet show:




The winner of the 2013 RoboCup @Home was team NimbRo of the University of Bonn, Germany. This video shows their robot, Cosero, watering plants, cooking sausages, and (of course) opening a beer:

[ Team NimbRo ]



Another week, another Rodney Brooks video. Here, he talks about how "cars are the epicenter of robotics." He connects it all back to jobs and manufacturing, of course, but I think he's right in the sense that within the next decade, robotic cars have the potential to truly revolutionize our society, as long as we're able to trust them to do so.

Via [ Robots-Dreams ]


Why do we love robots? Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and roboticist husband Ken Goldberg created a delightful short film to address that question. In the film, part of an eight-episode AOL original series, they explore some of the history and cultural references involving robotics, and even describe some of the latest research trends such as belief space and cloud robotics.


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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