Engineers at the University of Washington and UCLA have developed stretchable, sensor-equipped skin that can be wrapped over robotic fingers, or prosthetic limbs, and provide electrical impulses for tactile feedback.
The aim of the project isn’t to let androids wax poetic, but to help humans handle robotic tools more precisely.
You’ve got to hand it to the roboticists at the University of Washington: They’ve built a robotic hand modeled so closely on human anatomy, it’s almost scary.
The hand uses plastic components that are modeled to mimic human bones, with crocheted ligaments, stringy tendons and rubber skin layered on top. Servo motors pull cables to copy the movement of muscles in a real hand.
When you hook up the contraption to sensors placed strategically around a human controller’s arm and hand, the robot appendage can hold a pen, grip a softball or balance a plate with near-human dexterity. IEEE Spectrum’s Evan Ackerman says it’s the “most detailed and kinematically accurate biomimetic anthropomorphic robotic hand that we’ve ever seen.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Imagine a contest for the kinds of technologies that would set Tony Stark’s nuclear-powered heart all aflutter in the “Iron Man” movies: exoskeletons, brain-computer interfaces, stair-climbing wheelchairs and bionic limbs, for example.
You don’t have to imagine it anymore: Swiss organizers are getting ready for the first-ever Cybathlon on Oct. 8 in Zurich.
This is no Hollywood publicity stunt: The Cybathlon is aimed at giving a boost to assistive devices and the millions of people around the world who use them. Fifty-five teams from 23 countries already have signed up for the games, and the organizers have put out the call for more teams to register.
The teams’ pilots will vie in six events that take advantage of exoskeletons, brain-wave controllers, prosthetic arms and legs, powered wheelchairs and muscle-stimulation bikes.