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Video: Robotics Projects from DFKI Bremen

Watch these German space robots practice their crater-climbing skills

1 min read
Video: Robotics Projects from DFKI Bremen

This video is a good overview of some of the cooler stuff that they're working on at the DFKI Robotics Innovation Center. I'm not that great with German, but "DFKI" may somehow stand for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. They've partnered up with the Robotics Group at the University of Bremen to help turn basic robotics research into robots with "real-world applications," which also apparently includes a lot of space-type stuff.

One of the robots in the above video caught my eye in particular: ARAMIES, a sort of robot space explorer dog thing that looks like it came straight out of that lousy Red Planet movie

ARAMIES was a DFKI project that began in 2004. It was sponsored by DLR (the German Space Agency), and was specifically designed to climb up steep and uneven terrain, like lunar craters or Martian canyons, using a mean looking set of claws:

Despite the additional complexity that comes with legs, the amount of mobility they offer is unprecedented, which is why robots like BigDog are so terrain-capable. While the ARAMIES project concluded in 2007, elements of the design and software live on in another crater-clambering robot called SpaceClimber, which is the spidery guy in the first video who looks cool enough to have earned itself an extra picture:

[ DFKI Bremen ]

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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