It’s amazing how far robotics has come throughout the years. From simple robots that could only do menial tasks to advanced robots like the CHARLI-2 that can do the Gangnam style, I guess you can say that roboticists themselves have come a long way.
An example of the latter group of robots is the iRobot. What you see above is just a part of it though. Specifically, that’s the robot’s hand, and it’s about to be ‘smashed’ by a baseball bat. It sounds brutal, but I assure you, it’s not what you think. You’ll understand when you see the clip where the researcher does the actual smashing. You’ll probably come off amazed at how they managed to build such a thing in the first place.
Totally had you with the ‘smashing’ bit, didn’t I? This video actually features an earlier prototype of the iRobot’s hand. As you can see, what sets it apart is how soft and compliant the hand is while being dexterous and robust at the same time. That’s obviously not an easy combination to pull off, but that’s exactly what these guys managed to do.
iRobot built this hand as part of the DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. The current version will be attached to the DARPA ARM robot, which different research groups will use to develop and test new manipulation strategies.
Chris Jones, who’s the director for research advancement, explained: “Our hand actually uses contact with the environment to manipulate various things. We leverage compliance, so we don’t depend on expensive sensors to position the hand.
I don’t know what it is about researchers wanting to smash their robots all the time, but I’d have to say the shock factor works when it comes to getting media attention about their latest developments.