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in « Weekly recap »,
 February 03 2017

Weekly Recap: Bat Bot, Jelly Bot, Fruit Bot, Sperm Count and Gendered Monitors

Bat Bot

Bat Bot.

Researchers have developed a drone mimicking bats, called Bat Bot (B2). This biomimetic flying robot reminds us of the hapless Clément Ader who, at the end of the XIXth century, attempted to fly bat-like airplanes. The Bat Bot is a motorized ultralight flying machine, weighing in at just 93 grams. It boasts jointed carbon-fiber arms covered in a stretchy, ultrathin (56 micrometers) silicone-based membrane. It is without a doubt a masterpiece of robotic engineering; but we’re having trouble imagining practical applications for it.

Popular Science, “Bat Bot flies through the air on whisper-thin wings.”

Science robotics, Alireza Ramezani, Soon-Jo Chung, Seth Hutchinson, “A biomimetic robotic platform to study flight specializations of bats.”


Jelly Bot

A team of MIT scientists developed hydrogel-based robots that are virtually invisible under water. A video shows an unsuspecting ryukin goldfish suddenly ensnared in the four arms of a robotic hydrogel claw, produced thanks to 3D printing. To function, these soft robots require a hydraulic connection and a pump, which are not invisible.

The Verge, “Watch this invisible robot grab a fish out of the blue.”

Nature Communications, Hyunwoo Yuk, Shaoting Lin, Chu Ma, Mahdi Takaffoli, Nicolas X. Fang, Xuanhe Zhao, “Hydraulic hydrogel actuators and robots optically and sonically camouflaged in water.”


Fruit bot

British on-line grocer Ocado is testing a new robot to pick and pack fruits and vegetables for customer orders. The KUKA LBR iiwa14 arm is mounted with the RBO Hand, developed by the robotics and biology lab of the Technical University of Berlin. Soft, pressurized-air and rubber hand-like devices are becoming commonplace in robotics for handling delicate objects. Check out this example of a four-fingered hand developed by Beihang University (BUAA):

These new robots will probably take over some types of materials handling jobs. But for the time being, they’re still slower than humans.

Circuit Breaker, “This robot arm is surprisingly good at picking up fruit.”


Sperm Count

Gentlemen: Yo turns your smartphone into a microscope able to zoom in on a semen sample, count the total number of sperm and the number of active ones. FYI: to reproduce, you’ll need lots of wrigglers. Yo can confirm your reproductive ability or, alternatively, convince you to see a fertility specialist. You can even share vids of your mojo on your favorite social networks! The device is available by preorder for US$50. It includes necessary supplies for two tests.

Circuit Breaker, “This device, called Yo, will show you live video of your sperm.”


Gendered Monitors

AOC Q2781PS.

AOC has come out with a classic, 17-inch, 2560×1440 pixel monitor, for US$499. But for an extra $100, you can get the rose gold version encrusted with genuine Swarovski crystals on the back. We’re not sure if this is chick schtick (think pink) or just a bling thing. Should you wish to prettify your cubicle, you’ll have to wait a bit, since the product isn’t yet available. I’d be in, but I work facing a wall and no-one would enjoy the razzle-dazzle.

Circuit Breaker, “When shopping for a new monitor, always get the Swarovski crystal model.”


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