This robot uses spider joints to wiggle around

As if robots weren’t weird enough, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and at the University of Boulder in Colorado have created a jointed robot that has no bulky components and connectors. Instead, the system uses hydraulics based on spider legs to actuate flat pieces of plastic. A liquid dielectric will harden and soften based on electrode activity, just like in a read spider. The robot can jump ten times its height and can be used to life objects far heavier than its parts.

“The SES joints are very simple and light, as there are no peripheral components which weigh down the robot,” says Christoph Keplinger, Director of the Robotic Materials Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligence Systems. “Many applications for soft robots require versatile actuators. These spider-inspired joints allow for high functionality and consume only little power, they are easy and cheap to make–the plastics we are using are for food packaging–and their production is easily scalable. These are all qualities that are critical for the design of robots, which can move in many different ways and manipulate a variety of objects without breaking them.”

From the release:

The high performance is enabled by Spider-inspired Electrohydraulic Soft-actuated joints–SES joints in short. The joints can be used in many different configurations–not just when creating an arachno-bot. In their paper, the scientists demonstrate a bidirectional joint, a multi-segmented artificial limb, and a three-fingered gripper, which can easily pick up delicate objects. All creations are lightweight, simple in their design, and exhibit high performance making them ideal for robotic systems that need to move rapidly and interact with many different environments. 

I, for one, welcome our new arachnorobotic overlords.

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Introducing: mophie snap collection

For our phones, charging has become an area of some heated-up competition. First it was how many watts you could push down the cord to speed up charging, and then once the Qi wireless standard became, well, more standard, it was all manner of wireless charging (and how fast it charged). They’ve tended to be very Apple-focused, or generic (ie, everyone else), but the new mophie snap collection wants to correct that.

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Ready for summer grilling and chilling – the BioLite FirePit Cooking Kit

We’ve written about BioLite and their FirePit a few times in the past, both in terms of reviewing the original version (you can see that here), as well as some of the improvements that they made earlier this year. Well, now we’re back into the swing of backyard grilling and campfires, so we thought we’d bring this back up, as we saw a small price drop on the BioLite FirePit Cooking Kit.

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Introducing: NOCS Provisions Zoom Tube

When you’re heading outside, you might be thinking about grabbing a pair of binoculars to take with you to zoom in to see what’s up in the trees or off in the distance. If you want to cut some weight and bulk out, though, perhaps a monocular gets the job done. If so, then the recently-released NOCS Provisions Zoom Tube is something you’ll want to have a look at.

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In Review: The Fender Jazzmaster Acoustasonic

I’m a guitar lover so when I had the chance to try the Fender Jazzmaster Acoustasonic I didn’t think twice. What more could you want? It’s a beautiful, California-made electro-acoustic that looks like the side of a 1960s station wagon. Add in some surfboards and some fish tacos and you’ve got an afternoon of fun. But that’s not what this $2K guitar is about. Instead, it’s a clever, unique, and very high tech git-fiddle with a few tricks up its sleeve.

So what makes this guitar unique? Well, like Yamaha’s TransAcoustics, Fender has stuck some impressive electronics into the package to turn a single guitar into 10 guitars.

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A big juice box for adventures – the Goal Zero Yeti 1000X

Yesterday, we told you about a portable wind turbine that can be used while you’re out camping, or even at home for emergencies. What if you want an even bigger battery, something to last you for a full week while out in the wilds, or even for an extended power outage? This is something I’ve been more interested in since our derecho event last summer, and the Goal Zero Yeti 1000X looks like it could cover a lot of bases.

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Two new options from SteelSeries to up your game

Whatever your favorite game may be, you sometimes get that feeling that maybe your peripherals aren’t up to the task. Or who knows, maybe your favorite mouse has worn out over the years, and it’s time for a new one. Whatever the reason, SteelSeries has two recently-announced items that could help you (or your dad, as Father’s Day is coming up) get back in the game.

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Introducing: the Glow Rhino Reactor

Over the past few years, a good pocket knife has become an essential part of what I have with me every day (aka Every Day Carry). Even since I’ve been working from home, I still have a knife handy, for opening packages and whatnot. When we go camping, I switch to one that I’ve got a tritium glow fob attached to, so I can easily find it. Well, the recently-released Glow Rhino Reactor ups that game, and does it in a sleek everyday package.

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