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Video Friday: Google Delivery Drones, Strange Robot Game, and Humanoid Does Ice Bucket Challenge

 − at 17:25, 29. Aug. 2014

Google has delivery drones! Plus (of course) all the rest of Video Friday

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Disney Research Patents ETH Zurich's PuppetCopter

 − at 20:25, 28. Aug. 2014

The PuppetCopter isn't just a patent: it's a real thing

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Robo Sapiens: Witnessing the Evolution of the Human Race

 − at 16:09, 28. Aug. 2014


Vision of a bionic runner

Vision of a bionic runner

In many ways, the human race has advanced radically in a very short period of time. People born with missing limbs can now live full and “normal” lives, as can those who have suffered injuries and amputations. This is a far cry from the days when an amputated leg meant either life with a peg for a leg or a wheelchair. Today’s amputees often receive fully functioning appendages that work and look almost as good as the biological parts they replace. Development and growth of robotics and technology sub-disciplines are needed in the biological arena to keep up with this amazing evolution of the human race.

I have been interested in this type of technology for a long time, seen in glimpses of the future by reading Robo Sapiens: Evolution of a New Species by Peter Menziel and Faith D’Aluisio in 2001. The authors wrote this book after traveling all over the world and seeing first-hand the work that was already being done. What they experienced convinced them that a world filled with smart creatures that appear human is not only possible, but is coming very soon. This book was soon followed by Flesh and Machines:How Robots Will Change Us by MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks, which offered a look inside the labs where robots were being developed, and 2005’s The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil, where the author speaks of a world where humans and machines unite, allowing a combination of our history and feelings with technology’s greater capacity, knowledge and speed in the thought process.


robotic books

Book covers: Robo Sapiens, Flesh & Machines, Singularity is near.

We see examples of these technologies frequently in today’s world; soldiers returning from war are fitted with prosthetics that function so well that their disabilities are unrecognizable at times. In addition, prototypes of artificial organs to replace the spleen, lungs and pancreas have already been developed. There are also implants in development which connect the brain directly to a computer. For the most part, robotics has been limited to helping quadriplegics through the use of artificial limbs, but the potential for this technology is amazing, and we will undoubtedly find it being used for a wider range of issues. The lines between “bionic” and “biology” will definitely blur quickly as these new technologies assist humans to live better lives.



Nigel Ackland with a Bebionic3 artificial hand


Artificial limb

Artificial arm concept from designer Hans Alexander Huseklepp.

Bionic products are becoming mainstream; witness the fact that the Swiss are hosting an Olympics-style championship for bionic athletes called Cybathlon, in October 2016. With a range of events, the contests will challenge these athletes to be the best in the world at using their prostheses, powered exoskeletons and/or electrically stimulated muscles. There is even an event where pilots will be able to use special brain-computer interfaces to control a racing horse or a racing car on screen. These competitions will confer two prizes; one for the competitor, and the other for the developer of the equipment in use.

Cybathlon - The Bionic Olympics

Cybathlon – The Bionic Olympics

Cybathlon promises to raise awareness with the public about assistive technology and its potential, as well as to spur collaboration and development of new and better technologies. It is indeed a brave new world, and we here at the RobotShop are thrilled to be a part of all its fascinating changes.


Related Stories


[original entry]

ROS Dependency Analysis Graph

 − at 22:42, 27. Aug. 2014

From Ben Arvey via @ros-users

Hello, my name is Ben Arvey and I've been developing a set of analysis tools for ROS under the direction of Dr. Bill Smart. Our lab is giving a talk at ROSCon concerning our research, of which this is one aspect.

I'm looking for some preliminary feedback from developers. Any information about what you need in an analysis tool would be very helpful!

Here's the web app (Chrome works best):

Here's a page with some basic documentation info and suggestions for feedback:

Many thanks,

Ben Arvey

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What Happened to NASA's Valkyrie Robot at the DRC Trials, and What's Next

 − at 19:55, 27. Aug. 2014

What's up with Val?

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FAA Faces Legal Action on Its Rules for Model Aircraft

 − at 18:00, 27. Aug. 2014

Three groups file suit against the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration over its rules for small drones

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Why Can't the Government Run Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications?

 − at 16:00, 26. Aug. 2014

Washington can't get cars to talk to each other because it hasn't got the funding

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Five Myths and Facts About Robotics Technology Today

 − at 16:00, 26. Aug. 2014

An investor discusses five pressing issues about the future of robots

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Experimental Indigo binaries for ARM

 − at 23:02, 25. Aug. 2014

From Austin Hendrix via ros-users@

I'm pleased to announce that I have experimental binary builds of ROS available for ARM and ready for wider testing.

I have builds of the ros-core and ros-base metapackages, along with PCL and the navigation stack.

Notably missing are the OpenNi drivers, rviz, moveit, and many other packages. I'm planning to work on them, but they're not currently available.

Installation instructions are available at , and the full build status is available at (green packages are built, red packages failed to build).

Just to clarify, these are builds of ROS Indigo targeted at Ubuntu Trusty (14.04) running on armhf processors

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Unbounded Robotics to Shut Down Due to Issues With Willow Garage Spin-Off Agreement

 − at 21:37, 25. Aug. 2014

The robotics community loses a promising startup

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