A German robotics company recently took the wraps off an advanced robotic hand capable of almost the same fine motor skills possessed by human beings.
Festo showed off its ExoHand at this year’s Hannover Messe industrial fair where it won second place for the Best-In-Show Hermes Award.
A normal human hand is a highly complex system, consisting of no less than 27 bones, numerous muscles and a sensory feedback loop powered by three separate nerves. Previous attempts to imitate a fully functioning human hand have produced little more than awkward, jerky results, something the ExoHand gracefully avoids.
Exohand can be worn either as an exoskeletal glove or controlled remotely as a robotic arm, able to perform complex manipulations with a surprisingly gentle touch.
The fluidity of movement is mostly down to the Exohand’s eight double-acting pneumatic actuators, which simulate a hand’s muscles, enabling the fingers to pivot and the thumb to move in toward the palm.
Additionally, the hand boasts eight linear potentiometers which act as displacement sensors, while 16 pressure sensors provide feedback on the positions, angles, and forces of each finger.
What is remarkable about the sensory feedback is that it can actually be “felt” by the person operating the arm, enabling the user to know exactly what the robot hand is feeling.
The company believes the glove will be able to play a part in several roles, both as a rehabilitation device for patients recovering from stroke or injury, or even for factory workers forced to perform repetitive tasks on a daily basis.
Festo has also developed a brain-computer interface to read electroencephalograms (EEGs) in the wearer’s head which can enable the user to open and close the hand simply through the power of focused thought.
For a look at the robotic arm in motion, check out the demo below:
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I understand the painstaking effort that led to the development of this particular robotic hand. I certainly appreciate the genuine undertaking and dedication and therefore affirm that the team deserves merit.
I also hope for further improvement in that design so that it may more closely resemble the perfect human hand with yet more power than natural muscles. I know that it is technically feasible and therefore cannot but encourage our friends to leap forward towards that goal. Bravo and keep up the good work!
I agree with Erebus. Over the last 25 years I've seen examples of this technology all looking exactly the same. The small difference is that today processing power is much greater and much cheaper so you can obviously have a lot more data points collect and process information quicker. I would imaging with the computational power we have a robotic arm could pickup a pin and not a large octagon block (I will even go as far as to say that there is a reason why they use straight edge objects).
Tactile feedback is a giant step forward. Consider telepresence of surgeons, or thinking smaller, remote repair of machine. Consider dangerous tasks where human hands are in harms way which could be replaced with this technology. And imagine the next logical step, replacing missing hands.
Sorry Sylvie, but I have to concur with Erebus comment. Although a great excersise of thechonolgy deployment. It fails to raise on the innovation side to revolutionary, since it requires complete human guidance.
Show me some fluid autonomous motion, then we will be drooling over the posibilities. IMHO ;-)
Suck kind of a robotic hand is a great boon for people who have paralyzed arms.
The video is showing this robotic arm as an add on. Can this hand work independently say for a person who has his hands cut off by an accident?