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Whoa: Quadrotors Play Catch With Inverted Pendulum

Watch these quadrotors balance a stick on its end, and then toss it back and forth

1 min read
Whoa: Quadrotors Play Catch With Inverted Pendulum

ETH Zurich has been teaching their quadrotors tricks with inverted pendulums since back in 2011, but this latest video is incredible: somehow, they've managed to get two quadrotors to play catch with one. Holy cow.

So it sounds like the only concession that was made was shock absorbing tips on the pendulum; otherwise, there's no actual trickery going on here, just some very clever programming and top-notch hardware. With that in mind, I wouldn't go out and try this with your AR Drone in your living room or anything; ETH Zurich has a dedicated "flying arena" that enables adaptive precision flying like this. 

We certainly haven't seen the last slice of amazingcake from these bots, so what are they going to do next? Well, here's a potentially impossible suggestion: swap out that single pendulum for a double pendulum, which has a joint in the middle. A quadrotor is of course a totally different system than the one in this video, which is why I'm calling this suggestion "potentially impossible." But it's fun to think about, and if I had a nickel for every time a robot was able to do something that I thought was impossible, I'd be able to buy myself a pony.

Thanks, Markus!

Via [ RoboHub ]

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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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