A robotic hand with human-like dexterity has ‘bridged the divide between humans and robots’ with its cutting-edge technology, which allows it to mimic the way human hands pick up and handle objects.
The robot is capable of holding eggs without breaking them and picking up tweezers, while also having the strength to crush a can or lift heavy objects.
It’s thought this could open up a range of opportunities for it to be used in engineering and medicine, among other fields, because it has the ability to complete a broad range of tasks that require both strength and flexibility (dexterity).
While ‘artificial soft grippers’ – hand-like devices that can gently manipulate soft objects – are already being used in areas of medicine and engineering, they’re not equipped to be able to both handle delicate objects and carry out heavy tasks, and would require other parts to make them capable of doing both. In addition, the already-existing soft grippers tend to be too clunky and heavy.
But this new hand, invented by a team in South Korea, can do it all.
Professor Seungyong Han and his colleagues at Ajou University have created a light-weight gripper – weighing in at just 1.1kg, measuring 22cm in length and with 30 joints – that is capable of handling the most delicate of objects, as well as crushing or lifting heavier ones.
Professor Han, who led the study, explained, ‘The human hand has five fingers, which together enable delicate control and also act as important sensory organs. We wanted to develop a hand-like soft gripper with fingers to mimic the human hand and bridge the divide between humans and robots.’
They tested their device using snail eggs that are only 3mm in size and extremely fragile. ‘Our gripper could not only handle the snail eggs but also provided warmth to promote hatching and even monitored the heart rate of the newborn snails,’ Han explained.
‘This confirmed that our miniaturized gripper could handle delicate biological tissues. Nevertheless, we also tested the device using other objects, such as metal washers, polystyrene balls, rigid caps, and salmon eggs,’ he added.
Han is very optimistic about the discovery and says it could be trasformative in the field of biomedical engineering.
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BY : LAURA SANDERS ON