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Better Hands May Help Robots Grasp Meaning


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Robot hand

New research could be handy for robots.

Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features

Two recent studies show that roboticists are applying some fresh thinking to the building and operation of robot hands, and a third suggests why the work is so important, possibly vital for domestic robots learning how to be useful around the home.

Silicon Valley start-up Willow Garage put its PR2 robot on the market earlier this year. It sports two gripper-equipped arms and has demonstrated its ability to use them to fetch a cold beer or fold a towel. But it relies on sophisticated sensors and extensive pre-programming to know how best to grasp an object and how hard to squeeze to maintain a firm grip without causing damage.

Siddhartha Srinivasa at Intel Labs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues think they have found a way to do it without the pre-programming. At last week's International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Taipei, Taiwan, his team discussed using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to help robots pick things up.

From New Scientist
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