Being in the robotics industry has its perks. But, robotics is far wider than machine learning or AI as we know it today. It has its applications in all forms of automation, both mechanical and software. Every camera system that senses the world and every mobile phone that senses the orientation in a 3D space owes its existence to robotics.
The humanoid form of robots is still the one that is most recognized whenever we talk of robots. However, they are present in every other form possible too. The robot arms that help pack your beverages and chips in factories are a good example of that. But, the gear is changing to a high-speed roller-coaster ride.
The Shadow of Hand
Whether you call it a fancy take on reality or just an etymology, the ?Shadow Robot Company? in London has exhibited their humaniform robot hand that is as identical to a real human hand as possible. Though it does not look like the T-800 from Terminator franchise from James Cameron, it still is similar in shape and size and has all the degrees of freedom a real human hand would offer, but, there is a lot more to just the look of it. It has to operate with the sensitivity of human skin. It is to touch, to feel, to grasp with varying degrees and to hold. There is a lot more to work on if you have to see it behave like a human. Even for a real handshake, there is a lot to do. It lives in the shadow of the hand.
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The research is supported by premier institutions that include NASA, CMU, and more. They are used in some form and being improved upon at the same time. This shadow dexterous hand is not just a concept but is also commercially available as prosthetics. You can get it in pneumatic and electric-actuated forms and models. They simply call it the ?Shadow Dextrous Hand? and have released it for purchase for which you have to go to their official site and fill up a form to get a quote. To see the hand in action you can view their YouTube videos. This pretty much gives a nice demonstration of how complex actions it can perform just like a human hand.
It comes with high bandwidth sensing that uses 129 sensors to take care of the telemetry. This telemetry is what enables you to generate complex mechanical manipulations, finger movements and more. It allows it to absorb tactile sensation, the temperature at its fingertips and more, just like a human hand. It is fully integrated with the ROS platform that is the defacto operating system for robots today.
It does not look like a human as it does not have a skin. It looks skeletal.
This is a great stride in the field of prosthetics and realism to humanoids. It allows one to understand how miniaturization and advancements in technology can help humans gain freedom and power.