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This Robot Can Somehow Jump on Water

Some call it science, some call it witchcraft, but this robot can run and jump on the surface of the water

1 min read
This Robot Can Somehow Jump on Water

The crazier parts of the scientific community have long declared anything that can walk on water to be possessed by black magic, lizards and bugs included. But black magic or no, roboticists at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have managed to make it work on a robotic insect that, in addition to walking on water, can also jump.

Modeled after a water strider, the legs of this robot are made of a a porous, water-repellent nickel foam. Real water striders, of course, do not have nickel foam legs, but the concept is the same: you spread the weight of the robot out enough that the surface tension of the water can support it. This is a tall order for a robot this large: weighing in at 11 grams, this porker is over a thousand times the mass of its biological inspiration.

To get the robot to jump, a separate set of legs was added, bringing the total to five. By using these actuating legs to push against the surface of the water, the robot was able to make leaps 14 centimeters high and 35 centimeters long, taking off at nearly 65 kph, which impressive for such a little guy.

Like that CIA fish from last week, a robot with these capabilities could be used for, uh, "water quality monitoring," 'cause that's totally what the CIA is into. Our guess is that the only water quality monitoring that robots like these will be doing is the kind where the water just happens to be right next to something that, by sheer coincidence, somebody wants to spy on. 

[ ACS ] via [ CNET ]

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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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