‘Soft’ Robotic Hand With Advanced Object Identification Capabilities Developed at MIT

Published by , October 5, 2015 11:50 am

(MIT News) — Researchers from CSAIL Director Daniela Rus’ Distributed Robotics Lab demonstrated a 3D-printed robotic hand made out of silicone rubber that can lift and handle objects as delicate as an egg and as thin as a compact disc. Just as impressively, its three fingers have special sensors that can estimate the size and shape of an object accurately enough to identify it from a set of multiple items. This is important because in order for robots to be able to perform the tasks currently done by humans, robotic hands that are capable of recognition and detection similar to human hands are needed — hands that are capable of acute recognition and detection.

“Robots are often limited in what they can do because of how hard it is to interact with objects of different sizes and materials,” Rus said. “Grasping is an important step in being able to do useful tasks; with this work we set out to develop both the soft hands and the supporting control and planning systems that make dynamic grasping possible.” The team is hopeful that, with further sensor advances, the system could eventually identify dozens of distinct objects and be programmed to interact with them differently depending on their size, shape, and function.

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