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We're at IROS 2013 in Tokyo!

One of the largest robotics conferences on the planet starts today, and we're bringing you all the best stuff

1 min read
We're at IROS 2013 in Tokyo!

IROS 2013 started over the weekend here in Tokyo. We've set up camp at Tokyo Big Sight, an appropriately futuristic building out in Tokyo Bay. We checked out some workshops on Sunday, and today are the start of the technical sessions. Thirteen tracks take place at the same time, with back-to-back 15 minute presentations. Technical sessions run through Wednesday, with more workshops on Thursday, and iREX (the International Robot Exhibition) starts on Wednesday.

It's probably safe to say that there is more robot stuff going on in Tokyo right now than has ever taken place anywhere else, ever.

What we're going to do is bring you all of the most interesting new research that we possibly can, along with as much of iREX as we can cram into our cameras. It's not going to be physically possible to write and publish it all this week, so expect to see IROS and iREX news continuing for at least a week or two after we get back.

And with that, we're off!

[ IROS 2013 ]

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
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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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