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The United Nations Takes A Stance Against Killer Robots

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robotHopefully films like Pacific Rim will remain limited to the realm of science fiction, because if giant monsters ever did come through a rift beneath our oceans, the amount of political and bureaucratic bullshit that would have to happen before any Giant Freakin’ Robots got built would almost be a bigger headache than the monster threat itself.

But while banning enormous, trans-dimensional monsters might seem arbitrary in our current times, getting rid of killer robots of any size has become a major issue for world leaders. The recently formed Stop the Killer Robot campaign has found its biggest sponsor in the United Nations, which joined the fight last week in the form of a draft report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which will almost certainly take up a lot of talking time during the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on May 29th.

The report’s author, South African human rights law professor Christof Heyns, is straight up calling for a global moratorium on the “testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use” of lethal autonomous robotics (LARs). He isn’t solely worried about attacks from drones either, since those are controlled by humans more often than not.

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High School Roboticists Design Device To Help Muscular Dystrophy Student Open Locker

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botThere’s a lot of negative news out there, and a lot of it has to do with backwards-thinking people in government. But every once in a while, positive science news slips through the cracks, and it gets a little easier to remember just how virtuous humankind can be.

At Michigan’s Pinckney Community High School, a student named Nick Torrance is now able to open his locker for the very first time. It wasn’t hidden at the end of a rainbow or anything. Torrance suffers from muscular dystrophy, and attends school in a specialized wheelchair. Amy Uphouse helps the 18-year-old Torrance become more independent in her role as a Livingston Educational Service Agency occupational therapist. It was her idea to formulate a way for Torrance to open his locker, and after an outside search for a method came up short, she looked within the school itself for an answer.

Specifically, she turned to the school’s robotics instructor Sean Hickman. Holy shit, a high school robotics instructor! Two of Hickman’s students, Micah Stuhldreher and Wyatt Smrcka, won first place at the 2012 SkillsUSA national robotics competition, and they’re returning to defend that honor this year. Obviously, they were tasked with the challenge, and after almost a year of trial and error — including switching from a relay device to a computerized one — they succeeded in their goal, and now all it takes for Torrance to open the locker is a wave of the hand. Granted, a wave of the hand is a challenge in and of itself to anyone suffering from muscular dystrophy, but you know what I mean. Check out the device in action below.

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Look Out World! These Robots Assemble Ikea Furniture

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Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming sci-fi action epic Pacific Rim features gigantic, monster-fighting robots operated by two people. Ross Knepper of M.I.T. figured out a way to make two robots do the work of one person, only more efficiently, if not quicker. Life is full of backwards parallels. Maybe Knepper’s dog is named Hellboy.

Knepper’s robots are Kuka youBots by name, and by trade, they build Ikea furniture. This obviously isn’t the most earth-shattering invention, or the most furniture-building. Oh wait, it is that last one. Working in tandem, the bots will screw legs onto coffee table tops with the dexterity of two fairly intelligent children. Check the dynamic duo out below and think about that Ziploc bag of extra furniture parts you’ve accumulated over the years.

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Robot Steals Sodas From Vending Machine, Giving Other Robots A Bad Name

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To cross the language barrier, just head to 1:20 on the timeline to see the device in action. Otherwise, it’s not too hard to get the most basic idea of what’s happening.

It’s almost as if YouTuber IodureMetallique was a spokesman for Pacific Rim‘s recent marketing, but instead of giant freakin’ robots made to destroy monsters, he built a small theivin’ robot to quench his thirst. For entertainment purposes only, of course.

Though I’m not sure what area of the world he’s from, our young hacker/inventor/machinist is of the French-speaking variety, and his soda-stealing robot video is all in French. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that a good accent makes something as simple as stealing soft drinks that much more tantalizing and attractive.

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Horror Villains Recast As Evil Murdering Robots

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Pinhead Robot 2From the name of this particular website, you probably guessed that we have a certain affinity for robots. They’re great, but also terrifying. And as great as science fiction is, horror is also a pretty good time. When the two come together, well that’s magic right there.

Never has this been more apparent that this series of paintings that takes iconic horror movie slashers and recasts them as crotchety old robots. Some of my all time favorites are represented here, including Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street, Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Pinhead from Hellraiser. And then there’s Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, which some people seem to like. With the exception of the last name on this list, these are movie monsters that traumatized me throughout most of my childhood.

Hailing from poopbird.com, which is a wonderful title for any website, these renderings are pretty adorable, way cuter than encountering any of these movie villains in real life would actually be. If movie have taught us anything, it wouldn’t end well for most of us.

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Autonomous Robotic Jellyfish, Because the World Isn’t Scary Enough

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There’s nothing particularly new about roboticists creating mechanical versions of some of nature’s creatures for research purposes, but in the cases of honeybees and whirligigs, the threat of crippling nightmares is minimal. But once people start devising gigantic robotic jellyfish, it’s time to invest in a lunar time share.