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Robotic hand learns to become more dexterous

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A human hand makes contact with the University of Washington’s robotic hand. (Credit: UW)

Pianists, surgeons, typists, gamers and baton-twirlers all learn to use their hands more skillfully as they ply their trade, but what about robots? Researchers at the University of Washington say they’ve developed a five-fingered robot hand that’s more capable than ours, and can learn to handle objects better and better without human intervention.

The ADROIT Manipulation Platform draws upon machine learning and real-world feedback to improve its performance, rather than relying on its programmers to specify its every move.

“Such dynamic dexterous manipulation with free objects has never been demonstrated before even in simulation, let along the physical hardware results we have,” Vikash Kumar, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering, told GeekWire in an email. Kumar and his colleagues discuss the project in a paper to be presented May 17 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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