Skip to main content

Bop it, twist it, pull it, grip it: MIT robot hand can pick up objects with ease

Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have figured out a way to make a robot grasp an object quicker and more efficiently. 

MIT showed off the robot in a GIF exactly of the claw picking up and adjusting its grip on an object, which is more complicated than it looks for a machine. According to the release, it can take a robot tens of minutes to plan out the possibilities of the sequence, but with a new algorithm, it takes less than a second. 

The results, which were published Thursday, October 17, in The International Journal of Robotics Research, will allow robots in industrial settings to figure out their environments quicker. 

“This is a way to extend the dexterity of even simple robotic grippers because, at the end of the day, the environment is something every robot has around it,” Alberto Rodriguez, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, said in a statement. 

Physical tasks that will benefit from the algorithm include a variety of physical tasks, like picking up and sorting objects in a bin and intricate tool use. 

“Most factory robots that use tools have a specially designed hand, so instead of having the ability to grasp a screwdriver and use it in a lot of different ways, they just make the hand a screwdriver,” Rachel Holladay, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, said in a statement. “You can imagine that requires less dexterous planning, but it’s much more limiting. We’d like a robot to be able to use and pick lots of different things up.”

MIT is known for its work in robotics, and you could even argue that it is a leader in the robotics industry. A tiny mobile motor created by a team at MIT in July could end up changing the way we view and build robots. The robot consists of five tiny fundamental parts that have the ability to assemble and disassemble into different functional devices — with the end goal of having it build other, larger robots.

It’s groundbreaking in the sense that the new system is a step closer to creating a standardized set of parts that could be used to both assemble other robots and to adapt to a specific set of tasks, just like the new algorithm published Thursday.  

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Thought-controlled robotic hand can play games of rock-paper-scissors
3d printed hand rock paper scissors m2 robot

finger motion

Researchers at Japan’s Hiroshima University have developed a robot prosthetic hand, controllable using only a wearer’s thoughts. The low-cost 3D-printed creation can perform a wide variety of hand gestures, and even engage in a game of rock-paper-scissors. The engineers who developed it hope that it could be used by people who have lost limbs, either through illness or accidents.

Read more
Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep
agility digit delivery robot with box 3

Digit: Future of Self-Driving Vehicle Delivery | The Future of Ford and Transportation | Ford

Here in 2019, delivery robots are very much a reality, with companies from Amazon to FedEx tripping over themselves and each other to be among the first wave of early adopters. Useful as these wheeled autonomous robots promise to be, they’re not exactly the image of a delivery robot that decades of science fiction writers have promised us.

Read more
The holy grail of robotics: Inside the quest to build a mechanical human hand
Shadow Robot Company Robotic Arm

Somewhere in North London, in an anonymous office block on a nondescript road in the U.K.’s capital city, a robot hand is tapping out a message on a keyboard. “Hello, World” it writes, a geeky reference to the basic computing program often used to introduce novice coders to a programming language. The hand doing the typing is the Shadow Robot Company’s “Dexterous Hand,” considered to be one of (if not the) best robotic hand ever created.

Well over a decade in the making, the Dexterous Hand boasts 20 motor-driven degrees of freedom and another four under-actuated movements. In total, this adds up to 24 joints. Each of these joints possesses a movement range that is identical, or at least very, very close, to an actual human hand. It can open or close its grip in just half a second. It can twiddle objects between its fingers. And thanks to 129 built-in sensors, it can carry out tactile sensing of its environment.

Read more