The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Video Friday: Robots That Fold, Robots That Drive, Robots That Drink

It's a good thing that these origami robots can't fold themselves and multiply, because if they could, the world would have ended by now. It's Video Friday!

2 min read
Video Friday: Robots That Fold, Robots That Drive, Robots That Drink

Have you seen anything so terrifying made of origami? I think not! And even if you have seen something more terrifying, it's unlikely that it's ever chased you down and try to bite you, like this foldable robot bug can. See it skittering around, and more stuff that's almost as cool, in this week's Video Friday.

This is how you pour a beer, robot-style.



And this is how to get your coffee delivered to you in the morning:

[ DIY Drones ] via [ Motherboard ]



The National Science Foundation got a look at some of what Daniela Rus has been up to at MIT, involving inexpensive yet capable robots that pop right out of a printer nearly ready to go, just requiring some origami-type folding to turn them from 2D sheets into 3D machines. The electronics aren't quite printable yet, but they're getting close:

[ DRL ]



UMass Lowell has been working on a rover for NASA's RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition. Check it out:

In this video the rover can be seen traversing different sets of terrain and ramps at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. The sand pit in this video is 10 inches deep, and the concrete ramps are 30 degree inclines. This is the mid-point project review; the rover is still in development.

[ UMass Lowell Rover Hawks ]



While interning at Willow Garage, Jen Barry has been developing DARRT, a motion planning algorithm that includes multiple types of manipulation. Why is this cool? Watch the vid, and it'll all make sense:

[ Willow Garage ]



How can you not love Nao and his adorable little car?

And we will continue to love him until he commits microvehicular roboticide.

[ NaoCar ]



This is a video of Roboy singing and having fun, but I'll tell you what, I'd pay good money to see the little dude dance

[ Roboy ]



It is very important that you watch this:

Thanks, Kubi! And if you're super confused, click here.

[ Kubi ]



Here's your Mars Curiosity Rover Report, discussing the rover's recent drilling operations and what it managed to find under the surface.

[ Curiosity ]



If you didn't make it to BarBot earlier this month, Tested has some sweet video, although you'll have to pour your own drinks:

[ BarBot ] via [ Tested ]



Engadget Expand happened last weekend, and they had some top-notch roboticists on the stage. The whole thing was recorded, so we'll finish up this week with a rundown of the "Robopocalypse" presentations and panel, featuring Chris Anderson of 3DRobotics, Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics, and Steve Cousins of Willow Garage.


Chris Anderson

[iframe // allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=349 width=545]


Marc Raibert

[iframe // allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=349 width=545]


Steve Cousins

[iframe // allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=349 width=545]


Panel Discussion

[iframe // allowfullscreen=false expand=1 height=349 width=545]

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?

Keep Reading ↓Show less