New Robotic Hand Mimics a Human Hand

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 27 2008 2:19 PM

European researchers have created a robotic hand that mimics the flexibility and sensitivity of a human hand, and is controlled by a neural-network-based program modelled on the cerebelloum.

The hand developed as part of the research project Sensopac - being run by 12 groups - can grasp an egg, snap its fingers, and carry coffee.

Experts at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have revealed that they made a robotic "skin" out of a thin, flexible carbon that changes its resistance depending on pressure.

According to them, this enabled the robot hand to tell the shapes of an object, the amount of force placed upon it, and the direction of that force.

The researcher say that there are 38 opposing motors that control the hand's joints, giving it a touch that ranges from light to forceful.

To model the robot hand, the researchers utilised hundreds of MRI images of human hands.

The researchers hope that they can improve the robot's understanding of movement and sensation thorough its neural network, reports

They say that the robot will be able to sense the properties of an article as and when it picks it up, and adjust its motions in accordance with what it contains-such as a cup containing water or flour.

Started in 2006, Sensopac is a four-year project focused on creating an artificially intelligent robot with sophisticated hand manipulation and grasping abilities.