The November 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Video Monday: Happy Winterval from IEEE Spectrum Automaton

Join robots from around the world in celebrating Winterval, whatever that is

2 min read
Video Monday: Happy Winterval from IEEE Spectrum Automaton

Rather than try to puzzle our way through all of the different holidays and whatnot that seem to happen this time of year, we're going to follow in the path blazed by the City of Birmingham in 1997 and just go with a friendly, all embracing, and politically not-incorrect "Happy Winterval!"

Robots, being robots, celebrate their own festivities without telling us about any of them, but they nonetheless get conscripted into what we've going on. Before we head off for a few (very few!) vacation days, here's a bunch of robots that have been programmed with all sorts of holiday cheer.


The Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL shows us how presents really make the trip from Santa to us:

[ LIS ]

Zen Robotics has a different theory, apparently:

So what happened to Y-mas, then?

[ Zen Robotics ]

Not so, says the Autonomous Christmas Lab at ETH Zurich. You get your presents like this:

Lovin' the outtakes. But seriously, how do I get StarlETH to pull me around on a sled? I've been a good boy this year, I promise!

[ ETH Zurich ]

At TU Eindhoven, present delivery takes a whole bevvy of robots working together:

[ TU Eindhoven ]

Meanwhile, GM's got some industrial robots hard at work:

Sphero temporarily took over Union Square in NYC to put on a light and sound performance:

28 Sphero robotic balls all independently programed and controlled by 4 smartphones to Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo". Each ball had to be precisely choreographed and the complex dance routine written measure by measure.

[ Sphero ]

NAO does "Jingle Bells:"

[ TheAmazel ]

Rock version, plus xylophone:

[ Humanoids Freiberg ]

And NAO does "We Wish You a Merry Christmas:"

[ DigitalSirip ]

Meanwhile, Aldebaran Robotics' NAO is all about the New Year:

Impressive that Aldebaran trusts NAO with something that's on fire. I'm not sure I would.

[ Aldebaran Robotics ]

miBots learn to sing!

miBots are scientific instruments dedicated to cutting-edge research and development activities. But during the holiday season, they work on improving their artistic skills by taking singing lessons.

[ Imina ] via [ RoboHub ]

It's a TRANSFORMING PRESENT SANTA ROBOT:

[ VStone ]

And of course, Happy Holidays from all of us here at IEEE Spectrum Automaton. :)

{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}
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
Horizontal
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
DarkGray

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