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Video Montage: Robots from Olin College of Engineering

Undergraduate student researchers from the Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass have put together a video montage to show off the myriad robots the Olin labs are creating.

1 min read

 We previously discussed some of the research activities at the small, undergraduate-only Olin College near Boston, MA. They've just released a video montage of the different robots that have been worked on over the last few years, including some new additions -- robots that have been the product of senior projects. This year in particular had two really interesting new autonomous vehicles.

One is an unmanned surface vehicle (a USV) that was developed with funding from Aurora Flight Sciences. USVs are an up-and-coming ocean technology that serve a variety of purposes: ocean monitoring, surveillance and reconnaissance, and launch platforms for other unmanned vehicles. Some take the form of a standard jetski; others, like the Olin/Aurora USV, are based on a pontoon raft platform. The video shows clips of Olin's USV being tested on a navigation course at Lake Waban in Wellesley.

The other is the Ghost Swimmer. Inspired by the original RoboTuna developed at Draper Laboratory, the Olin students are working with the consulting firm Boston Engineering to develop a new generation of robotic fish, designed it to mimic as closely as possible the movement of its tail to direct itself through the water. Though it currently spends most of its time swimming in an indoor pool, Ghost Swimmer -- currently remote controlled -- is likely to join its USV cousin in Lake Waban and eventually open water in the near future.

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Thanks, Dave!


Robotics Research and Majors at Olin College of Engineering

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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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