You remember this thing, right? The vaguely creepy little soft robot that can crawl through gaps and can't be killed? In addition to not being able to stop it or kill it, you now can't even see it, since it's learned how to camouflage itself. Even in the infrared. And also, just for fun, it glows in the dark. Video of this, and oh so much more, in today's Video Friday.

Those boffins in George Whitesides' lab at Harvard have taken their pneumatic soft robot and added a layer of "skin" containing microfluidic channels. By pumping colored liquids through these channels, the robot can completely change colors in 30 seconds or less. Adding fluorescent dyes make the robot glow in the dark, and ambient temperature liquid will effectively make the robot invisible to infrared detectors. Future versions, DARPA says, will incorporate all of the tethered stuff into a self-contained onboard system. Freaky. Cool, but freaky.

[ DARPA ] via [ Discover ]



Speaking of creepy crawlies, Sangbae Kim (who's also busy making a robot cheetah) has used shape memory actuators to create this robotic mesh earthworm called Meshworm that moves by expanding and contracting its entire flexible body:

Yes. It cannot be destroyed. This is a worrisome trend, isn't it?

Via [ MIT ]



Ah, Curiosity. I thought our coverage was pretty good, but it's hard to top this:

SHOUTOUT TO JPL W00T!!! And just in case you were wondering, this is exactly how rocket scientists dance. Trust me, I know. And also, this vid is way better than the (probably not safe for work) original, albeit less wiggly.



The Summer Olympics may be over, but iRobot is already looking ahead towards the winter events:

Roomba Sochi 2014? Please?



The good news: driverless cars are becoming a mainstream issue. The bad news: they're being used in attack ads:

Wow, that does look scary, doesn't it? Good thing it's fake. And maybe now is an appropriate time to mention that Google's cars have just made it to 300,000 miles, completely accident free? How many people (or politicians) can make that claim, hmm?

Via [ Forbes ]



If you're going to blow over $2,000 on a hexapod kit, you'll be buying a PhantomX. Why? Because it's big, it's strong, it's fast, it's creepily organic, and it would have some surprising tricks up its sleeves if it had sleeves. Hang on (or skip forward) until about 2:40 to see one.

[ Trossen ] via [ Zenta ]



And finally today, I have no idea what you're talking about so here's a teleoperated robocat playing a theremin:

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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