We're at IROS 2011!

One of the largest robotics conferences in the world kicks off today in San Francisco, and we're bringing it to you all week long

1 min read
We're at IROS 2011!

IROS (the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) starts today in California, and we're here all week to bring you the best it has to offer. If you're not familiar with IROS, it's kinda like the fall version of ICRA. You remember ICRA, right? San Francisco may be (slightly) less exotic than Shanghai, but that doesn't mean that the robotics presentations are going to be any less awesome. 2,459 papers were submitted to the conference this year, and there will be ten (ten) conference tracks going on all at the same time, with rapid-fire 15 minute live presentations, and we're going to do our level best to be in all ten of those places at once. And on top of that, there's workshops, demos, and an exhibit hall.

This morning we're kicking things off with a three-hour tour of the UC Berkeley robotics lab, followed by an afternoon packed full of presentations, including animal robots, robot table tennis, brain interfaces, insect robots, and something about a shape-memory alloy robotic heart. All of this, just in half of day one!

Please bear with us if our posting schedule gets a little wonky this week; we're gonna be running ourselves ragged trying to keep up with all the cool stuff that's going on. Stay tuned!

[ IROS 2011 ]

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