Thursday, July 23, 2009

Helping Robots Get a Grip

Photo: Good grip: A new approach allows a complicated robotic hand to grab an object more easily.Credit: Matei Ciocarlie and Peter Allen, Dept. of Computer Science, Columbia University

From Technology Review:

A new approach lets dexterous robotic hands grasp easily.

One of the main things preventing robots from lending a hand with everyday tasks is a simple lack of manual dexterity. New research from a team at Columbia University NY could help robots--and robotic prosthetics--get a better grip on all kinds of objects.

Peter Allen, a professor at Columbia University and director of its Robotics Group, and colleague Matei Ciocarlie developed a simpler way to control a dexterous robotic hand by drawing on research in biology. They realized that while human hands have about 20 degrees of freedom (20 joints that can each bend), each joint is not capable of moving completely independently; instead, its movements are linked to those of other joints by muscles or nerves.

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