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Video Friday: Robot Rocket, Giant Sphero, and 3D Printed Head

And more from Festo. And iRobot. And JPL. Get ready for the weekend with Video Friday!

3 min read
Video Friday: Robot Rocket, Giant Sphero, and 3D Printed Head

Next week is U.S. National Robotics Week, of course, so really, we're just trying to blow through Friday as fast as possible and kick off a robotics-filled weekend. Sure, that describes pretty much every single Friday we've ever had, and watching a bunch robot videos is the best way that we know of to make that happen.

Let's start with . . . ROCKETS!

The testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California represented the first terrestrial demonstration of an autonomously guided rocket flying a planetary landing trajectory. The testing utilized Draper's GENIE (Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment) system actively controlling a Masten Xombie terrestrial test rocket. GENIE is an Autonomous Guidance, Navigation, and Control (AGNC) avionics system that is the only system available today capable of precision planetary landings with real-time, autonomous trajectory planning and hazard avoidance maneuvers.

[ Draper GENIE ]



Monday was April Fool's day, in case you hadn't noticed, and here's what Sphero came up with:

What's funny is that it's not really a joke at all:

Sphero, meet the Rotundus GroundBot. Rotundus GroundBot, meet Sphero.

[ Sphero ]

[ Rotundus ]



Need a robot head? How about helping to Kickstart this one: it's called MAKI, and it's super cheap, because you can 3D print the entire thing and then rig it up with your own hardware:

Just $30 gets you the 3D printer files along with full assembly instructions.

[ Hello Robo ] and [ Kickstarter ] via [ SUYS ]



Festo's spectacular robot dragonfly from last week is back, in this video that does a great job of showing how all of the different actuators work:

Festo has also been working on this "learning gripper," which can teach itself to grip stuff:

The LearningGripper from Festo looks like an abstract form of the human hand. The four fingers of the gripper are driven by twelve pneumatic bellows actuators with low-level pressurisation. Thanks to the machine learning process, the gripper is able to teach itself to carry out complex actions such as the targeted gripping and positioning of an object.

And there's one more thing, too. It's called WaveHandling, and it's a sort of three-dimensional pneumatic conveyor belt that uses wave motion to move objects. Huh? Just watch:

The pneumatic conveyor belt can transport objects in a targeted manner and sort them at the same time. It consists of numerous bellows modules that deform the surface creating a wave motion that transports the objects in a targeted manner.

[ Festo BionicOpter ]

[ Festo LearningGripper ]

[ Festo WaveHandling ]



This robot, from Illinois Institute of Technology in collaboration with MIT's Robotic Mobility Group, uses something called "active split offset castors" to move omnidirectionally. It's a little bit weird looking, but undeniably effective:

Here it is on grass:

[ IIT Robotics Laboratory ]



MIT's Senseable City Lab teamed up with Kuka and sponsors Coca-Cola and Bacardi to design whatever this thing is:

I'm thinking it's a somehow ridiculously complicated and expensive and robotic way of making a rum and coke. Or maybe a rum and coke and a whole bunch of other stuff. We'll find out next week, when Makr Shakr goes on display in Milan.

[ Makr Shakr ]



How good is an iRobot Looj at getting ping pong balls out of your gutters? Let's find out:

Here are some suggestions for what they should try next:

  • Doritos
  • Pom-poms
  • Jell-O
  • Glitter
  • Corks
  • Thumbtacks
  • Golf balls
  • D batteries
  • iPhones
  • Skulls
  • Roombas
  • Grumpy cats

[ iRobot Looj ]



Kids, this is why building robots is cool:

Good luck, and have fun!

[ JPL ]

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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