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Slender Robotic Finger Senses Buried Items


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The slender robot searching in sand.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers developed a robot that digs through granular material and senses the shapes of buried objects.

Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a slender robot finger with a sharp tip and tactile sensing capabilities that can help identify buried objects.

Dubbed "Digger Finger," the robot can sense the shape of items submerged within granular materials like sand or rice.

The researchers adapted their GelSight tactile sensor for the Digger Finger, and added vibration to make it easier for the robot to clear jams in the granular media that occur when particles lock together.

MIT’s Radhen Patel said the Digger Finger's motion pattern must be adjusted based on the type of media in which it is searching, and the size and shape of its grains.

MIT’s Edward Adelson said the Digger Finger “would be helpful if you’re trying to find and disable buried bombs, for example.”

From MIT News
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