Double-Amputee Tries On Two Futuristic Robot Arms, Controls Them By Thought

In an electrical "freak" accident that took place over 40 years go, Les Baugh lost both of his arms. He made history this summer by being the first double-amputee to control two robotic arms simultaneously. Before suiting up, Baugh was first examined by doctors in order to find the correct nerves and muscles. By doing so, doctors were able to find the right muscles and nerves capable of translating movement to the prosthetic arms. A virtual reality exercise was then needed to walk Baugh through on how to control the two terminator-like arms.

Lastly, torso sockets were attached to his right and left shoulder/torso. Then came the final piece. The two arms were then attached and Baugh was able to grasp and pick up objects. "I just went into a whole different world," Baugh explained as he was using the arms.

But it's more than just an exam and a short training exercise that's needed to control a prosthetic arm. Baugh had to undergo surgery to reassign existing nerves. This relatively new surgery gave Baugh complete prosthetic control simply by the power of thought. More on the targeted muscle reinnervation surgery can be found at the laboratory's site.

Researchers estimate that this type of prosthetic technology will improve significantly in the next 5-10 years.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

LocoRobo Robotics Kit Bridges The Gap Between Functionality And Simplicity

Image source: LocoRobo

The majority of today's kid-friendly robotics kits all face a common problem. You either are given functionality or ease of use. But one Philadelphia-based non-profit is working on bridging the gap between the two to provide an advanced programming and robotics education platform. Their solution is LocoRobo, a crowdfunded programmable robot.

By combining both functionality and simplicity, LocoRobo is able to provide young students with a solid programming education platform compatible with a large ecosystem of programming languages. Starting off with LocoRobo is easy. An iOS and Android app will walk you through the basics of programming using simple, attractive icons and blocks. Moving forward to the next step will bring you to the more advanced side of programming. This includes languages like C, Python, and Javascript. With LocoRobo's optional Bluetooth dongle, you can program on a computer wirelessly.

The team behind LocoRobo has made an open-source API library which includes the languages listed above. These programming libraries offer more functionality beyond the app and allow more novice students to take full control of LocoRobo's hardware. Other notable features include open-source hacking and a virtual reality desktop program.

Two versions of the robot are available. Here's a rundown of the parts you'll find in the LocoBasiX and the more advanced LocoXtreme.

For backers interested in LocoRobo you can get the basic LocoRobo for $250. T-shirts and other rewards are also available.

Source: Indiegogo, LocoRobo

Russian Short Film Shows How Robots Feel When They're Replaced

In with the new and out with the old. It's not just iPhones who suffer from being replaced every so often; even robot's can sometimes get "emotional" when they're replaced by their superior next-gen counterparts. Here's a Russian short film that shows the story of , R32, a humanoid robot in the near-future.

Image source: Vimeo

Review: Ozobot Is The Intelligent And Interactive Game Piece Robot

"Ozobot packs a tremendous amount of functionality into one square inch."

It's time to upgrade from the traditional game piece and make the switch to Ozobot. Ozobot, at its core, is an intelligent, micro robot game piece. Draw a few lines on a piece of paper and Ozobot will roll along changing colors accordingly. With a few specific color codes, you can "program" Ozobot to speed up, halt, or spin. But this robot goes beyond paper and can use tablets as a high tech robot control medium.

We'd like to thank Evollve Inc. for sending an Ozobot out to us. Without further ado, let's get in to this review. In the box, you'll find Ozobot, a USB cable, stickers, instructions, game boards, and a calibration card. Ozobot comes pre-charged so it's ready to play right out of the box. To get started, you can experiment by drawing a few strokes on a piece of paper. Ozobot tends to like thick, more visible lines.

To bump up the play to the next level, you can put Ozobot onto one of the tracks included. It comes with color codes printed or you can fill in your own. For those who are more tech-driven, Ozobot is capable of interactive play with tablets like the iPad. Evollve has developed a collection of four apps that can interact with Ozobot. You can view their latest dancing app, Ozogroove, here.

Image source: Ozobot

Other tablets work well too. Simply download a drawing app and crank up the stroke thickness and you're ready to create some paths for Ozobot to follow. We've tested Ozobot on the iPad and Kindle Fire. After using the calibration card, Ozobot transitions from paper to tablet.

The technical aspect of Ozobot is pretty impressive. Underneath the front, you'll find a strip of five color sensors. These sensors detect the lines and tell Ozobot's brain how to react. The color red will change the top-facing LED on Ozobot. Green and blue do the same. In addition to differentiating between colors, Ozobot can also hold a 45-minute battery life.

Ozobot also makes a great toy for teaching kids simple color-coded programming. Think of it as computer programming at the most comprehensible level. Kids can program Ozobot by drawing certain color codes using markers. A few of the tracks included have fill-in-the-blank slots where you can input a color code in order for Ozobot to get from start to finish.

For $49 each, Ozobot is a simple, fun, and affordable robot that can teach kids simple, robot coding. You can pick one up at Ozobot or Amazon!

iRobot Reveals New Hackable Roomba, The Create 2

Image source: iRobot

Earlier today, iRobot revealed their new hackable Roomba-like robot called the Create 2. In a nutshell, the Create 2 is a hackable Roomba learning platform for STEM education. Students and hobbyists can experiment with the Create 2 by programming it and adding their own hardware. It allows students and those interested in robotics some basic, first-hand experience. Nothing beats bringing your ideas to life like code and hardware.

See also - Robot Holiday Gift Guide - Robot Kits, Drones, and More

Create 2 is outfitted with an Arduino and Raspberry Pi compatible board that acts as the brain. Programming is a jiffy since the robot uses your standard USB-to-computer connection. Wanna make Create 2 avoid obstacles or follow walls? There's a program for that. If you're looking to add some extra parts to Create 2, don't worry. Create 2 has multiple mounting holes where extra parts like cameras and LEDs can be added. iRobot even shows off that you can make a DJ and home security robot with Create 2. Take note that Create 2 also includes Roomba's original sensors like the infrared and bump sensor.

While Create 2 is expandable platform on its own, iRobot has developed their own STEM program that includes instructions, CAD files for 3D printed parts, and more. Some noteworthy projects include the DJ Create 2 and the Lightbot. Of course, there's always the option to expand on these projects. In the end, that's what Create 2 is made for.

Starting at $200, Create 2 makes for an affordable, expandable, and hackable robot platform for those looking into the field of robotics.

Source: iRobot

This Year's Funniest (And Weirdest) Robot Videos

Not all robots are perfect. Some miss the mark of what they're supposed to do, some are useless, and some are just outright entertaining. Here are this year's best robot videos.

1. Robot arm attempting to feed a bust.

2. Double Robotics robot gets stuck in a room.

3. Robotic bird crashes into audience.

4. Robots can't pour drinks.

5. Yes, let's use explosions for robot mobility.

6. Roomba wars.

7. Oldspice

8. Tis' but a malfunction.

9. Jibo parody (uncensored)

10. Though it's not from 2014, we just had to throw this one in.

ZANO Is An Autonomous Micro Drone That Wants To Take Selfies For You

Image source: ZANO

A Kickstarter campaign called ZANO is taking autonomous drones and selfies to the next level. By combining the technology found in drones like HEXO+ and Estes Proto X, ZANO is one of the first micro drones that can fly without a human pilot as well as take photos and video.

It works with your smartphone to follow you around, snap pictures, live stream and capture 720p 60fps video, and follow hand gestures. It can even zoom around at 25 mph while using its IR sensors to avoid obstacles. The drone's portable size and features make it seem more promising in terms of usability and consumer use. It's a lot easier to carry a drone in your pocket than lug around a carrying case.

In addition to auto mode, ZANO can also be controlled using the app. Simple joystick control lets you take fly ZANO any way you want. It's stable, fast, and ready to take photos at a moments notice.

The campaign has already raised $495,000 in about a month and that's around $100,000 over its goal. The early bird backers were able to grab the ZANO for $170 while the regular price is $235.
With that price, you'll get a carrying case, charger, and updates.

For those interested in tech specs, here they are.
  • 6.5cm x 6.5 cm (2.5" x 2.5")
  • on board MicroSD cradle
  • 1 x Spare battery
  • 55 grams in weight (1.94 oz)
  • 5 megapixel HD video camera
  • IR obstacle avoidance
  • Echo sounding sonar and high resolution air pressure sensor for altitude control
  • 32bit 330DMIPS processor
  • 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz WIFI connectivity
  • 2w Class D Audio Amplifier
  • High sensitivity onboard digital microphone
  • Unlimited colour RGB 8*8 pixel front display supporting animations, icons etc - Which doubles as a camera flash!
  • Unlimited colour RGB landing lights
  • Bidirectional motor control (Zano can drive motors in either direction)
  • iOS and Android compatible
  • 10 - 15 minute continuous intelligent flight time. (Weather dependent)
  • 15 - 30 meter optimal operating range. (Smart device and regional legislation dependent.)
  • 25 mph top speed
  • Durable and Lightweight design.
  • Digital Image/Video Stabilisation for clear and precise images and video capture.
  • Easy-Access Charging Port complete with removable battery. Charge multiple batteries and carry with you so your ZANO never runs out of juice!

However, there are challenges that ZANO faces. Before these micro drones roll out to their backers, the Wales-based startup , Tourqing Group Ltd, will have to equip ZANO with an SD card slot, finishing apps, working with object avoidance, and checking the flying regulations. Hopefully we can see these drones by next year.

Source: ZANO

New Video Shows How Amazon's Robots Will Handle Holiday Shopping

It's that time of the year again where shoppers from around the globe gather their holiday shopping lists and order items upon items from Amazon. So how does Amazon plan to deal with the immanent shopping frenzy? Robots.

In a new video uploaded to YouTube yesterday, it's shown that thousands of Amazon's Kiva wheeled robots work round-the-clock fulfilling countless orders. The robots roll around the fulfillment center with extreme precision picking up stacks of items as they deliver them to human workers. After a worker has removed the items, the robot then takes the shelf back to storage. Think Roomba but with a strong piston capable of picking up shelves. It's said that Amazon currently has 10 warehouses that make use of these item-carrying robots. Gigaom reports that Amazon can pack "50 percent more items" than traditional warehouses.

Last year, around this time, Amazon revealed their Prime Air drone delivery service. It took the internet by surprise, the press went crazy, and drone-related controversy arose. We still have yet to hear what Amazon plans to do next with their crazy idea.

Can you spot your order?

Source: YouTube Via: Engadget Photo: Amazon