This Robotic Finger Is Covered in Living Human Skin

A robotic finger covered with the epidermis has water-repellent properties.

By Andrew Liszewski

THE SKIN CAN REALISTICALLY BEND, STRETCH, AND WRINKLE AS THE FINGER CURLS AND EXTENDS.

Roboticists from the University of Tokyo have taken a tiny step toward creating the Terminator. They’ve built an articulated robot finger that’s seamlessly covered in living human skin.

There are many reasons why our current attempts to build humanoid robots with lifelike appearances always seem to end up somewhere in the uncanny valley, where their imperfect resemblance to real human beings invokes a strong negative emotional reaction from us. The way a humanoid robot moves certainly contributes to its not-quite-right appearance, but more often than not it’s the artificial materials used to recreate human skin that make humanoids especially creepy.

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Controlling this robotic excavator is like playing a video game

This machine can be operated remotely through augmented reality. 

BY SHI EN KIM

When I dig, you dig—a robotic excavator follows the motions of a remote user to execute digging from afar.

Digging in the dirt is tough business. An excavator will speed up the work, but operating one is tricky and requires years of experience. One that is operable remotely, and comes with an augmented reality system, could make the process easier, more convenient, safer—and, perhaps, more fun. 

“We have made a system that can take someone with no real skills of excavation and make them into an expert operator, way sooner than would normally be possible,” says Reuben Brewer, a roboticist who led the project. His team at SRI International, a non-profit research institute headquartered in California, has transformed an unwieldy excavator into a smart one with a gamified feel. 

Traditional excavators have non-intuitive controllers. To move the scooper up and down, the operator needs to execute a right-left motion on the joysticks and levers from within the vehicle. “There’re so many joints, and they don’t really map up in the right direction,” says Brewer. “It gets so confusing.” Operators also need intensive training to learn how to dodge buried gas lines, water lines, and internet cables to make precise holes in the ground. 

So, the researchers at SRI International have given excavators a robotification upgrade. Their smart digger can now be operated with more intuitive controls, and the operator does not even need to be in the driver’s seat. Users can perform maneuvers on these excavators right next to the vehicle, if they wish, or they can manipulate the machinery from the comfort of home or anywhere around the world, as long as they are connected to the internet. 

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Developing a crowd-friendly robotic wheelchair

Diego Paez, post-doctoral researcher at LASA, tests the Qolo robotic wheelchair in the heart of Lausanne.

by  Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Robotic wheelchairs may soon be able to move through crowds smoothly and safely. As part of CrowdBot, an EU-funded project, EPFL researchers are exploring the technical, ethical and safety issues related to this kind of technology. The aim of the project is to eventually help the disabled get around more easily.

Shoppers at Lausanne’s weekly outdoor market may have come across one of EPFL’s inventions in the past few weeks—a newfangled device that’s part wheelchair, part robot. It’s being used by researchers at EPFL’s Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory (LASA) to test technology they’re developing under CrowdBot, a project led by INRIA and involving a consortium of seven research organizations, including EPFL.

The project has received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) section. CrowdBot aims to test the technical and ethical feasibility of having robots move through crowded areas. These robots could be humanoids, service robots or assistive robots. “You hear a lot about self-driving cars, but not about robots that could be moving around among pedestrians,” says Aude Billard, the head of LASA. “However, robotics technology is clearly going in that direction, so we have to start thinking now about all that will imply.”

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The first robot burger chef in the world is slinging meat near NYC

It makes a delicious burger in less than 6 minutes.

By Anna Rahmanan

Ladies and gentlemen, meet RoboBurger, the first fully autonomous robot burger chef in the whole world.

The culinary wunderkid currently sits inside a vending machine at the Simon mall at the Newport Centre in Jersey City, New Jersey—a mere 15 minutes from Times Square!—but it’s about to dispatch similar robot friends across other locations, including a college in NYC and a giant tech company in Seattle.

To create a piping hot burger in less than six minutes, the patented invention actually uses a five-step cooking process that is similar to what chefs rely on at quick-service restaurants. RoboBurger first grills the patty then toasts the bun. Step three includes the dispensation of selected condiments, followed by the assembly and delivery of the food. Pretty cool, huh? 

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Robotic pill can orally deliver large doses of biologic drugs

Preclinical study evaluated treatments for diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and other conditions that use injectable meds using an orally administered capsule

Newswise — Biologic drugs—so named because they are typically isolated from a living source, rather than chemically synthesized—are used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and certain types of cancer. However, due to their complex and easily degradable components, the administration of these drugs often requires a self-injection, which can represent burdens for patients, such as necessary training for proper self-administration and the potential for needle stick injuries and pain. Now, NIBIB-funded researchers are developing a robotic pill that, after swallowing, can deliver biologic drugs into the stomach, which could potentially revolutionize the way that certain conditions are treated.

“Due to the inherent drawbacks of injectable medications, many healthcare professionals prescribe less effective oral medications in their place, resulting in suboptimal treatment for many patients,” said David Rampulla, Ph.D., director of the division of Discovery Science & Technology at NIBIB. “An oral pill for the delivery of biologic drugs would not only positively impact those patients who already use injectable medications, but could also benefit patients that are currently delaying their use. This preclinical research is an important step toward the development of such an approach.”

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Take a look inside a robot fast-food kitchen with fully autonomous ovens, freezers, and cleaning systems that don’t require any staff

Hyper Robotics’ kitchens. 

By Kate Duffy

  • Hyper Robotics’ kitchens can make fast-food using autonomous robotic machines.
  • The 40-feet kitchens have ovens, freezers, and metal detectors that don’t need human help.
  • The first kitchen was built for a Pizza Hut location in Israel, which can make 50 pizzas an hour.

Hyper Robotics is building 40-feet robotic fast-food kitchens filled with fully autonomous machines which don’t require human staff.

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A new robotic hand is so precise, it can hold an egg without cracking it just like a human

The team claims that the hand is able to pour drinks, hold an egg without breaking it, and crush cans. 


By Andrea Núñez-Torrón Stock
 and Nathan Rennolds 

  • South Korean researchers have made a robotic hand with a similar range of motion to that of a human.
  • It can perform delicate tasks like using tweezers and scissors or holding an egg.
  • It could be used as an advanced prosthetic or with robots that use AI.

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 explained all the details of the new technology. It weighs just under two and a half pounds and measures eight and a half inches. 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.

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Robot hand moves closer to human abilities

Fig. 1: Overview of the ILDA. a Configuration of the ILDA hand composed of five robotic fingers with fingertip sensors, the palm side integrating the actuators, and the controller and attachment. b ILDA hand with covers. c Ease of attachment of the ILDA hand to a developed robotic arm. d Actions performed using the ILDA hand such as grasping and manipulating everyday life tools, showing delicate and strong grasping.

by Bob Yirka

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in Korea has developed a robot hand that has abilities similar to human hands. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes how they achieved a high level of dexterity while keeping the hand’s size and weight low enough to attach to a robot arm.

Creating robot hands with the dexterity, strength and flexibility of human hands is a challenging task for engineers—typically, some attributes are discarded to allow for others. In this new effort, the researchers developed a new robot hand based on a linkage-driven mechanism that allows it to articulate similarly to the human hand. They began their work by conducting a survey of existing robot hands and assessing their strengths and weaknesses. They then drew up a list of features they believed their hand should have, such as fingertip force, a high degree of controllability, low cost and high dexterity.

The researchers call their new hand an integrated, linkage-driven dexterous anthropomorphic (IDLA) robotic hand, and just like its human counterpart, it has four fingers and a thumb, each with three joints. And also like the human hand, it has fingertip sensors. The hand is also just 22 centimeters long. Overall, it has 20 joints, which gives it 15 degrees of motion—it is also strong, able to exert a crushing force of 34 Newtons—and it weighs just 1.1.kg.

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THIS MODERN HOMEBUILDING SYSTEM RELIES ON ROBOTICS AND CUSTOM AUTOMATION TO BUILD PREFABRICATED DWELLINGS!

Automated Architecture Ltd. showcased its robotic assembly system for home building and prefabricated home dwellings during 2021’s Global Investment Summit (GIS).

BY SHAWN MCNULTY-KOWAL 

On October 19, 2021, the Global Investment Summit (GIS) saw 12 of the UK’s leading “green innovators,” selected by the UK government to emphasize the importance of implementing green technology into our day-to-day. Just in time for the COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference UK), GIS shows how the UK can shape the future of green investment. Weaving green technology into architectural building methods, Bristol and London-based design and technology company Automated Architecture Ltd., (AUAR) showcased a new robotic assembly system for prefabricated dwellings.

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GERMAN BIONIC DEBUTS A NEW EXOSKELETON WITH UPPER- AND LOWER-BODY ASSISTANCE

By Brian Heater

Late last year, German Bionic announced a $20 million Series A round led — in part — by Samsung Catalyst Fund. It was a curious alliance, given that Samsung has shown off its own robotic exoskeleton technology. I took Samsung’s Gait Enhancing and Motivation System out for a spin a few CESes ago — and while it was limited in functionality, it worked well for walking assistance.

Of course, it’s never entirely clear just how seriously we’re meant to take Samsung’s robotic ambitions. Thus far, the company’s offerings seem largely for show. German Bionic, on the other hand, has been at this for a while. In fact, the company just announced the fifth generation of its robotics exoskeleton, Cray X — which, fittingly, will be on display at next year’s CES in a few short weeks (shudder).

The system is set to debut early next year, available as a hardware-as-a-service subscription model, with a starting price of $499 a month Put simply, you’re probably not going to rent one of these things to move furniture around the house.

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Robotic exosuit uses ultrasound imaging to provide personalized walking assistance

By Tami Freeman

Wearable robotic systems have great potential for assisting locomotion during clinical rehabilitation, as well as use in recreation and to ease demanding occupational tasks. Walking patterns, however, vary according to a person’s age, height and physiology, may be affected by neural or muscular disorders, and change in different environments. As such, there’s a need for wearable robotics that can customize walking assistance to each user and task.

To address this need, researchers at Harvard University have developed a novel robotic ankle exosuit that uses ultrasound measurements recorded during walking to tune the level of assistance to an individual’s own muscle dynamics and walking task. The team – from Robert Howe’s Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory and the Harvard Biodesign Lab run by Conor Walsh – describes this new muscle-based assistance (MBA) strategy in Science Robotics.

The researchers predict that such personalized assistance should improve exosuit performance and support the adoption of wearable robotics in real-world, dynamic locomotor tasks. “By measuring the muscle directly, we can work more intuitively with the person using the exosuit,” explains co-first author Sangjun Lee in a press statement. “With this approach, the exosuit isn’t overpowering the wearer, it’s working co-operatively with them.”

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Researcher develops artificial muscle in miniature devices

University of Wollongong (UOW) senior professor Geoff Spinks, has been awarded at the global Falling Walls Science Summit for a Science Breakthrough of the Year, for his research on artificial muscle material. 

The research in question has led to the development of artificial muscles in miniature devices that could be applied in medicine and robotics, such as in miniature tweezers, prosthetic hands or dexterous robotic devices. 

Spinks and an international research team have developed various types of artificial muscles that bend, rotate or contract in length, by twisting and coiling carbon nanotube or polymer yarns. The science has enabled them to make artificial muscles as thin fibres or films that are especially well suited to microscopic devices. 

The most recent breakthrough happened as an unexpected outcome of their studies, thanks in part to the inspiration from nature and DNA supercoiling. 

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