New Innovative New Robotic Hand

Innovation January 9, 2017

As you must have noticed over the past year or so the field of robotics has been experiencing rather amazing advances that keep pushing forward the former limits of this field. The latest robotics innovation comes from the highly esteemed Cornell University’s Organic Robotics Lab. In case you were not aware, this lab has a clear and decided focus on the study and the advancement in what is referred to as “soft robotic systems”. These so-called soft robotic systems include everything from walking robots, robots with electronic skins that can and do sense touch and shape as well as actuators that are specifically engineered to realistically mimic the function and movement of natural organs such as the heart muscle.

In an exciting new development, Cornell University researchers have developed a working robotic hand with an as yet unseen level of sensitivity. Get this, the new soft robotic hand has a level of sensitivity that approaches that of a human hand. That means this new robotic wonder hand is sensitive enough to detect the shape, the softness and incredibly even the overall texture of the material or object being handled.

You may be interested to learn a bit more about the technology behind this new soft touch hand. Here is what you need to know: the robotic hand is actually filled with a number of optical fibers. These fibers are arranged such that they detect the amount of light passing through the hand. Understand that this light necessarily changes as the hand moves and then comes into contact with other objects.

Perhaps you will appreciate that this new soft robotic hand is engineered with sensors on the inside of the hand itself. You may well know that existing robotic hand technology is built with such sensors on the outside of the device. By including the sensing technology inside the hand itself, the Cornell soft robotic hand is more inline with natural human hands.

In addition, note that this Cornell robotic hand only works when the hand itself moves and thus changes shape. Associate professor of robotics , Robert Shepherd puts it this way: “if no light was lost when we bend the prosthesis, we wouldn’t get any information about the state of the sensor. The amount of loss is dependent on how it’s bent.”

Naturally the Cornell University robotics soft hand is still in the earliest stages of research. Nevertheless, this is the sort of research that will most likely lead to real world applications in the near future.

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