Robot hands seem to get more and more agile these days, and the future might eventually see a robot butler around your home that is not only capable of delivering your favorite drink to you on a tray, but also to wrestle with those pesky cans and bottles by pulling the tab or twisting the cap open, respectively. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and iRobot have come together to work on a new 3-fingered model of a robotic hand, where it the final prototype allows it to pick up a 50-pound weight with ease, and is also agile enough to make use of a small set of keys and is tough enough to get hit by a baseball bat without cracking. Hmmm, sounds like we are edging closer to a replacement hand for a bionic man, no? At least robotic hands do not shiver or shake whenever you are nervous.
Instead of mimicking a human hand, the three pronged approach was chosen with a useable palm so that it is easier for the robot to achieve a fluid motion. This is part of DARPA’s Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM-H) program, where its objective lies in developing low-cost and agile robotic hand hardware. DARPA mentioned that should this 3-finger robot hand be manufactured in batches of 1,000, the cost could drop to as low as $3,000 per hand, which is a far cry from current robotic hands on the market that could cost up to a whopping $50,000.