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California University Engineers in San Diego have built a skillful robotic arm with gentle “fingers” that can catch and handle sensitive items such as a lamp, or others like a screwdriver.
It is unique, because it combines three possibilities: to rotate the objects, to “feel” them and to create their three-dimensional models. This allows it to operate in low light and generally in low visibility conditions.
The researchers, led by the robotic engineer Michael Toley, presented the robot at the “International Robots and Systems Conference” in Vancouver, Canada.
The robot has three soft and flexible “fingers”, each of which is covered with silicone “smart skin”, which incorporates carbon nanotube sensors.
The data collected by electronic sensors upon contact with an object is sent to a computer where a three-dimensional model of the object is created. It is a procedure similar to tomography, in which two-dimensional sequential images create a three-dimensional image.
At a later stage, the robot will be equipped with mechanical learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to inter alia “understand” exactly what kind of objects it catches.
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