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In Arm Wrestling, Teen Beats Robots Hands Down

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In Arm Wrestling, Teen Beats Robots Hands Down

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In Arm Wrestling, Teen Beats Robots Hands Down

In Arm Wrestling, Teen Beats Robots Hands Down

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4527297/4527322" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

High school senior Panna Felsen, 17, arm wrestles an artificial arm built by a team from Virginia Tech. It's one of three robotic arms she defeated in Monday's international competition held in San Diego, Calif. Yoseph Bar-Cohen/NASA/JPL hide caption

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Yoseph Bar-Cohen/NASA/JPL

High school senior Panna Felsen, 17, arm wrestles an artificial arm built by a team from Virginia Tech. It's one of three robotic arms she defeated in Monday's international competition held in San Diego, Calif.

Yoseph Bar-Cohen/NASA/JPL

The entry from Environmental Robots Inc. of Albuquerque. hide caption

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In a woman-against-machine competition, the robots didn't stand a chance. Panna Felsen, a 17-year-old high school student from San Diego, needed just 24 seconds to beat an artificial arm in an international arm-wrestling match.

And she didn't stop there, downing two more robotic competitors — one in just three seconds.

The contest was organized by Dr. Yoseph Bar-Cohen, a senior researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Melissa Block talks to Bar-Cohen about technology that uses electroactive polymers — a little known class of plastics that expand and contract when jolted by an electrical charge — to develop artificial muscles in robots.

Bar-Cohen says he hopes the technology improves so that robotic arms can eventually compete against — and beat — world-champion arm wrestlers. The artificial muscles could lead to prosthetics and other devices, he says.