Huge amounts of money and time are being spent researching robotics for myriad of potential uses in the future. Robots promise the ability to be able to work in environments that are too hazardous for humans. A robot must have the strength and dexterity to handle difficult situations that would confront human beings. A lot of research is being put into creating robotic components that mimic the human body in functionality if not design.
This is because tools, switches, valves, and environments where robots of the future are likely to work were created with humans in mind. DARPA and iRobot are currently working on one of the most important components of any humanoid robot, the hand. DARPA and iRobot have unveiled a robotic hand that has both strength and dexterity, something that is a requirement for any functional robot.
According to DARPA, the three-fingered robot hand is strong enough to lift a 50-pound weight, yet has the dexterity to utilize a small set of keys or even a set of tweezers. The robotic hand is also very strong and can survive being bashed by a baseball bat. DARPA stayed away from a five-finger human-style hand because the three-fingered hand features a usable palm making it easier to achieve fluid motion.
The hand created by DARPA and iRobot is known as the ARM-H and is constructed using 3-D printing, custom molded plastic and rubber, and plastic machining techniques. DARPA thinks that the hand will also be surprisingly affordable when produced in batches of 1000. DARPA predicts that in batches of thousand each robotic hand would cost about $3000. Current robotic hands can cost as much as $50,000 each.
[via CBS News]