Innovators at South Korea’s Ajou University have created a robotic hand that is capable of holding fragile objects like eggs. It can also crush cans and work with tools like tweezers and scissors.
An article published in Nature Communications explained all the details of the new technology. It weighs just under two and a half pounds and measures eight and a half inches (21.6 centimeters). Its most striking feature, however, is its combination of delicacy, strength, and flexibility.
The device is made of steel and aluminum, and each finger is powered by three small motors in the palm. There are 20 joints, and around these, there are metal parts that function as tendons, the New Scientist reported.
These features give the robotic hand a similar range of motion to a human hand, enabling it to hold eggs, lift dumbbells, and handle tweezers.
Led by Uikyum Kim, the team claims that the hand is able to pour drinks, hold an egg without breaking it, and crush cans.
They also found that the hand can carry out delicate tasks using tools. For example, it can cut paper with scissors and use tweezers to place a microchip on a circuit board.
“The greatest strength of the developed robotic hand is that it is very easy to attach to existing commercial robot arms while having both strong grip and delicacy,” Kim told the New Scientist.
The robotic hand is also durable. To test this, the team made one of the fingers push down on a sensor constantly for half an hour. They found that the finger’s force barely weakened during that time.
The hand could also lift an 18-kilogram dumbbell without breaking.
A lighter version of the device could be used as an advanced prosthetic, while this version could be integrated into robots that use AI to manipulate objects.
The team is now planning an artificial skin for the hand so that it can replicate the softness of a human’s touch.