A week or two ago we promised you some incredible video from deep inside iRobot's super secret volcano lair, and today, we're delivering. We've got 25 awesome minutes of Nancy Dussault Smith, vice president of marketing communications at iRobot, giving us a personal tour of the company's museum, with artifacts ranging from Colin Angle's first robot all the way to experimental projects that never made it into production.

Robot fans will certainly recognize a lot of these projects, and beyond the actual robots themselves, you'll also recognize how iRobot's experiments have influenced all sorts of subsequent projects in the realms of both research and industry. But man, it's kind of crazy just how much stuff iRobot has been involved in, isn't it?

Oh, and that last little bit that Nancy mentioned about swarms of robots talking to each other and maintaining your home for you? She's not confirming or denying anything, of course, but based on other vague rumors we've heard over the years, our money is on Roombas and Scoobas that talk to each other wirelessly and coordinate their cleaning schedules to make sure that (for example) your kitchen floor gets vacuumed and then washed. Look for it in the Roomba 900 series, which doesn't exist yet, although if it did and we accidentally caught a glimpse of it during our tour, we definitely wouldn't be able to tell you.

If you're not sated by all the tasty info in this vid, check out the link below, which is a nifty interactive infographic thing exploring iRobot's past.

[ iRobot ]

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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
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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
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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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