Hackaday Links: June 5, 2022

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The big news this week comes from the world of medicine, where a woman has received a 3D-printed ear transplant. The 20-year-old woman suffered from microtia, a rare congenital deformity that left her without a pinna, the external structure of the ear. Using scans of the normal ear, doctors were able to make a 3D model of what the missing pinna should look like. Raw material for the print was taken from the vestigial ear of the patient in the form of cartilage cells, or chondrocytes. The ear was printed using a bioprinter, which is a bit like an inkjet printer. The newly printed ear was placed into a protective structure and transplanted. The operation was done in March, and the results are pretty dramatic. With a little squinting, it does look a bit like there are some printing artifacts in the ear, but we’d imagine that’s more from the protective cage that was over the ear as it healed.

Interesting news from Jezero crater on Mars this week as NASA revealed that Perseverance is now autonomously blasting rocks with its laser. During its recent drive in the ancient river delta, the rover spotted two rocks that seemed interesting to its Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS, system. Rather than sending the images back to controllers on Earth and waiting for instructions, AEGIS used the IR laser in the rover’s SuperCam to blast away at the surface or each rock, while monitoring the spectrum of the resulting plasma plume. This marks the first time AEGIS has been used by Perseverance, and the thought is that it will allow the planetary science team to concentrate on the really interesting rocks.

Meanwhile, the air wing of the Mars 2020 expedition is still making history, with Ingenuity having racked up its 28th flight recently. To celebrate, NASA released video of the helicopter’s 25th flight, which was a 700-meter hop over a landscape that looks a lot like any sandy desert here on Earth. The plucky helicopter just keeps going, although the approaching Martian winter is expected to curtail operations. The aircraft’s batteries are getting harder to charge, as controllers fight to balance the decreased output of its increasingly dusty solar panel with the increased need to run its internal heaters against the brutal Martian cold. NASA hopes the helicopter will survive the winter, but there’s no guarantee that Ingenuity will still be flying come springtime. Which is strange — we’d have laid odds that the whole technology demonstration would have ended in a tangled heap of wreckage by the fifth flight. Shows how much we know.

It seems hard to believe that June has rolled around already, but here we are almost halfway through 2022. And that means we’re coming up on the end of Round 2 of the Hackaday Prize. The theme for this round was “Reuse, Recycle, and Revamp”, and we’ve seen a ton of great entries. Entries for the “three Rs” round end on June 12, so you’ve still got a week to get something in. Or, if your “R” leans more toward “repair”, you’ll want to check out the “Hack it Back” challenge of Round 3. And don’t forget our other cool contest: “Odd Inputs and Peculiar Peripherals.” We know there’s a huge community of keyboard builders and attachment aficionados out there, and we’re looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.

And finally, you know you’re starting to make a difference when they start making fun of you. That’s probably what the people over at Starship Technologies, makers of the cutest dang delivery bots you’ve ever seen, are saying now that Starship fail videos appear to be making their way into the zeitgeist. We’ve featured a few lately in this space, including a train wreck and a bot wandering in the woods. Turns out there’s quite a little cottage industry in documenting these bots — and those of other companies, of course — in their less graceful moments. The one that got us was this speed-run into a giant hole in the sidewalk, which raises far more questions about pedestrian safety than it does about robot navigation. We suspect we’ll see many more of these snuff films as robot deliveries penetrate the market more and more.

16 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: June 5, 2022

    1. Kind of. If you have a craniotomy and are missing a piece of the bone in your skull they can (and do) 3D print the missing piece. Then the native nine fries into the bio polymer. Haven’t seen it used for long bone problems though.

  1. “The one that got us was this speed-run into a giant hole in the sidewalk, which raises far more questions about pedestrian safety than it does about robot navigation.”

    This is known as taking one for the team.

    1. Oddly, this week I have been pondering how I would print prosthetic ears if I had a printer at hand. Extra large ones though, more collection area, to augment the standard issue pair. (Born of a frustration of trying to watch something with stupid low volume with all settings maxed out and boosters failing to work.) I might just cut some out of cardboard.

        1. You are handily supplied with an ear augmenter at the end of each arm, but it is tiring holding them in place long and stops you using them for other purposes.

          Or are you trying the appeal to ignorance approach? In that technologically we never had a need to make them, because that’s wrong too…https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/aircraft-detection-radar-1917-1940/

          Plus the whole field of parabolic mics, which put electronics in the middle because we can do so easily these days, but same idea.

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