"World's strongest" robotic hand can also gracefully play the piano
The development of robots that can handle everyday objects with the subtle touch of a human being is a widely held goal among researchers in the field, who imagine the machines taking on new kinds of tasks across all kinds of industries. Scientists at the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials are touting their newly unveiled robotic hand as the world’s strongest, with an ability to handle objects three times its own weight but also to take on delicate tasks like playing a piano or serving a glass of water.
The robotic hand was built to mimic both the dimensions and functions of a human hand, though it does so with one less finger. A driving unit embedded in the palm controls 12 motors and the movement of each of the four digits, with the number of joints totaling 16. This allows both the digits and joints to move independently of one another, and for the hand to grasp objects weighing more than 3 kg (6.6 lb) despite weighing just 1 kg (2.2 lb) itself.
According to the scientists behind it, this makes it lighter and stronger than commercially available robotic hands and offers the “world’s strongest grasping force against its own weight." Additionally, the team says the design allows the hand to be mounted easily on a range of robotic arms.
But it’s not all about the heavy lifting. The team also fitted the robotic hand with force and tactile sensors at the fingertips, fingers and palm that enable it to measure and adjust the direction and magnitude of force when the hand comes into contact with different objects. So much so, it is capable of feats like pouring a glass of water, cutting paper with scissors, picking up an egg and even playing a tune on the piano.
"The robot hand was developed to handle various objects including the tools in everyday life by mimicking the delicate motion of a human hand,” says Dr. Hyunmin Do, who led the research. “It is also expected to be used as a research platform for studying the grasping algorithm of robot hand and manipulation intelligence."
You can see the robotic hand play the piano in the video below.