High-Speed Robot Hand Demonstrates Dexterity and Skillful Manipulation

Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand grasping grain of rice using tweezers.

A few blogs are passing around videos of the Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation.  However, the video being passed around is slight on details.  Meanwhile, their video presentation at ICRA 2009 (which took place in May in Kobe, Japan) has an informative narration and demonstrates additional capabilities.  I have included this video below, which shows the manipulator dribbling a ping-pong ball, spinning a pen, throwing a ball, tying knots, grasping a grain of rice with tweezers, and tossing / re-grasping a cellphone!

Here is the video:

 

Based on the video, the hand uses high-speed actuators with harmonic drive gears.  The hand can close in 1/10th of a second!  Personally, I find the tweezers grasping the grain of rice the most entertaining -- very anthropomorphic.

 

Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand grasping a grain of rice with tweezers

 

If you'd like to learn more about this (and other) robots from the Ishikawa Komuro Lab, see their website.

 

Comments

I'll tell you who will have the upper hand, the humans in charge. Of course, if they put the robots in charge then go off to the beach, it might just go horribly wrong.

This device is brilliant, but terrible. It is amazingly impressive, but it will put a million humans out of work when combined with the vision controller it is using. Picking and packing will be done by a robot that works 24/7 and tirelessly, and, apparently, at least 10x faster than any human. Hence it will replace 10 people on 3 shifts. Exactly the same as happened to the navvies who dug the canals when the steam shovel and then to the coal shovellers when the mechanical digger came along.

A factory (owner) will buy these robots in at a million £ a peice, because they are worth it in saved wages alone, even before you consider health care, sick pay, NI contributions, & red tape.

Welcome to the new recession. 

Someone said we can all be doctors (or whatever) but robotic surgeons are already replacing humans in areas like delicate brain surgery. There is already enough art in the world that I could change my desktop background once a second and never run out before I die at 115 years old. There is enough TV, porn, film, radio, etc. that the same can be said.

The foothills are already rather damp, and I think a dam just broke...

—NKT

The following link has it all - A.I. Nanotech - the future of the world etc  

http://www.heaven-or-hell-its-your-choice.com/

Endorsed by some major players in the field of A.I. as well.

—Anonymous

This is a clearer picture of the type of robot we need to regulate human growth... you know.. skim a little off the top... maybe only a couple billion humans... bada bing! Environmental destruction problem solved. I'd like to formally suggest we start with the criminals and terrorists, then move on to smaller game such as politicians, drug addicts, bad drivers, and Wall Street bankers. 

 

If that is too taboo a thought, then I will have you know that money is not an issue when it comes to how much I'd pay for a "Rosie" type housekeeping robot.

—DeadManWalking

Fear not the robot, but fear me instead.  For I am human.  I am intelligent.  I am clever.  I will exploit your wealth and marginalize your existance.  I will destroy your finances and ruin your life, if only because it is in my best interest to do so.  There are some fortunate ones who will be releived early in the wars I will rage.  But for you, no, you shall feed me and my family for many years to come.  That is more useful.

Thank you for your ignorance.  It is terribly profitable.

—Anyone
This reminds me of the Artificial Intelligence development about 2 decades ago. It will get some initial excitement then will fizzle down and die. Robots will never be able to perform tasks that require human skills. I know one should not use the word never lightly, but this is one I am not holding my breath for. A human can quickly adapt to unpredictable situations using skills acquired by years of training. Robots can only do what is programmed into them. They may be able to adapt in instances of programmed learning... that brings us back full circle to artificial intelligence. A few things like the video shows can be done at great expense, but how useful can these become? Would any one wants this to perform open heart surgery on him/herself?
—Lan NP
I posted something about this hand here:
http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-Augu...

The question is, who gets the benefits of all this consolidated innovation? A few at the top of a social pyramid, or every human (who all have some claim on the commons)? And will elites ironically use these post-scarcity robots and related technologies to create artificial scarcities they use to rule?

Solar panels, robot hands, Asimo, 3d printing, genetic engineering -- our social policies designed around scarcity and an income-through-jobs link to motivate production are getting more out of date every day as we move towards a potentially post-scarcity world. This is happening even *faster* than Marshall Brain predicted recently:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna_%28novel%29

Though slower than predicted in the 1960s:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Revolution

Our scarcity-based social policies and mainstream economic planning (like estimates about social security and healthcare costs, as well as who will have jobs to pay for that) are totally out of touch with such emerging realities.

Like Marshall Brain suggests, a "basic income" is one way forward -- essentially, a monthly social security payment for everyone regardless of age or income. This almost passsed the US Congress around 1970 under President Nixon, and was popular as it could replace other things like minimum wage laws or needs-based anti-poverty programs. For as long as we still had a market economy, this basic income could be funded by high progressive marginal taxes like up to 94% on income after WWII, a wealth tax on real estate, bank accounts stocks, bonds and even patents and copyrights; by the government renting out resources is controls like land or broadcast spectrum like Alaska does with oil royalties; by printing inflation-free money in accordance with a growing economy rather than let banks create money by fractional reserve debt; or by other means including government owned stock dividends. Even millionaires might benefit from such a plan:
http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-Augu...

Another approach is transitioning to a gift economy like Debian GNU/Linux. Another way is more local subsistence production with 3d printing and solar panels. We may see a mix of these possibilities. Hopefully we can avoid more war and even longer compulsory schooling (both related to the history of industrization as ways of reducing abundance).

Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3d_printing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-scarcity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanosolar
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

I love it, but it still doesn't look like Summer Glau.
Am I the only one who thinks that this three-fingered robotic hand bares an eerie resemblance to that of Futurama's Bender?
—David
these new ones have bad breath, I had to wait for him to move before I could zero him
—Anonymous

No, we're no where near AI as in terminator, but this is an amazing start. Sure, the hand may be dumb as nails and only do what it's programmed to do, but with all those high-precision, high-accuracy sensors and speed of movement...give it a gun, program it to target the spot between two eye-balls and see what it can do.

 They're also making good progress on brain-computer interfaces, so even if we're a thousand years away from true AI, we're probably not that far from an armored suite you could wear and control with your thoughts alone, i.e. mechwarrior/technoman/district 9 style.

—Anonymous
I would love to see these combined with prostetics technology. Why worry about the computer becoming better than us when we can better ourselves? Why turn over all the manual labor jobs to robots when with prostetics(either replacements or exoskeleton) we could do many times the amount of work in a small time. Then we would still have more time left over for creative ventures, which as was mentioned before me, is a very good thing. It is why we are as advanced as we are; most famous inventors didn't have day jobs. Also don't think that people wouldn't be willing to modify their body, just look at what actors, atheletes, and even regular people do to themselves today.
Jason
Wow, I could get this to fill captchas and type comment spam for me.
George

@People who don't want to lose their jobs.

How expensive would one of these things be? People can keep their jobs, because one of these robots that can do all the things a human can do would cost huge amounts more money than a human working. 

 @People who are scared of robot wars:

How silly.  Robots do what they are told. You ought not be scared of something like this. Also, if they do break their programming and turn into human hating machines, wouldn't a massive war with all the robots be so damn awesome?!?

—Stewart Jackson

You're now obsolete

-pray that they don't find out!

(From GURPS Robots)

—Anonymous

i'm studying about image processing but i can not track vevy very fast like this.

it's  very amagezing.

—ChaOLin
I agree 100% with James.
—Hoot42

Simply Amazing work .. !! Keep it up guys .. !!

 

you must (if not already doing and if you americans ) write some proposals to NSF/ DARPA/ Naval research ..  !!

—Jay

Great. So now my robot can tie me up, pick me with with a giant pair of tweezers, throw balls at me, and throw me in the air and catch me.  I feel great about that!

In all seriousness, great work, you guys.  This represents some tremendous work.

—Andrew
Yes, I'm sure the Obama administration is eagerly looking at this robotic hand and plotting ways it can take over your job - because we all know that's exactly what they do, right?
—Anonymous
"We can feed thousands more people for vastely less effort then a few hundred years ago. " Africans can't... Look at Zimbabwe. What an African 'success' story that is.
—Anonymous
Yeah, but can it use chopsticks?
—Anonymous
Arnie said "i'll b back" guess he was right, or atleast his han is back :)

It's not the robots I'm afraid of.  I'm afraid of the kind of people that will be using this technology.

 

Unintended consequences anyone?

—Economist
"How many trades and services which rely on human dexterity will in the not so distant future become robotic tasks."

 Answer: All the boring ones. Creative work stays, manual labour goes.

If the trades and services are being provided by robots (who require neither education nor entertainment), what will the creative people be doing?  Writing ad copy is about the only thing I can come up with.   

Encomys rebalance slowly as technology increases.

We've already reached the point where traditional economies do not react fast enough.  As the pace of technology advancement increases, this will become more and more apparent.  The most common example of this is the havoc being wrought on the music industry by digital media, which typifies the struggle of entrenched interest vs. new technology.  The patent wars currently being fought over gestural commands for computer interfaces is also interesting, but harder to research.  At the far end, should it be legal for genetic sequences to be patented?   

It might increase unemployment in the shortterm, but it also makes products cheaper. In the longrun, it balances. People work less, and can do more with that they earn.  

Demonstrably false.  Current North American purchasing power is lower than the previous generation, as is standard of living.  (This is the first time that's happened, so it might be a statistical anomaly, but economists  suspect it comes from the fact that manufacturing jobs make up a smaller percentage of total employment).   

We can feed thousands more people for vastely less effort then a few hundred years ago. More and more work goes  from being essential (food,water,shelter) to being entertainment or research based. 

It's not vastly less effort, it's just different.  If you're talking about North American factory farming, please bear in mind that each food item is the product of farming, but is dependent on massive mechanisation and chemical application, all of which in turn depends on global transportation.  The last reliable calculation I read stated that the human race invests about 10 calories of energy per 1 calorie of food energy. Unsustainable without hydrocarbons or another energy source of comparable efficiency.  Midieval farming was actually more efficient, but less productive.

This is a -good- trend and should be encouraged.

 "That is why, in a world where there was once no unemployment, tens of millions are unemployed today, and many hundreds of millions more lead tedious, demeaning, unfulfilling lives as their skills become worthless. "

 A world with no unemployment? You mean back when most of humanity spent most of their time farming? Because THAT was tedious and unforfilling.

Now that's just rude.  There isn't even an argument here.

We have vastly more freetime in todays world.

Again, demonstrably false.  Field studies reliably show that hunter-gatherers have the most leisure time.     

We can work for a few hours  and feed ourselfs for a week on those wages.

Define your terms.  I'm pretty middle of the road in terms of income and grocery choices, and no, I can't.  Rough estimate, about 20% of my working time is spent paying to feed myself, or to support food preserving infrastructure, or space to keep either of those things.  

If you stop to think about that, its incredible.*

 *(and yes, I acknowledge this is partly due to some foods being far too cheap and exploiting of the countrys it comes from)

See above re: transportation.  My personal opinion is that the only way this statement is wrong is that you should sub in 'everything' for 'some foods'.  Nothing in the industrialised world has a price that reflects its cost. 

"; the world just doesn't need another billion programmers/architects/doctors/whatever."

Moreso then farmers, blacksmiths and builders it does, yes.  You have a very romantic view of ye-old-days.

Again, now you're just being rude.  

(of course, the world also dosnt need a bigger population period. But thats a different mater...) 

--- 

Eek.  Not touching that.  OK, yes I am.  Population is part of the problem, but the effect of the population is magnified greatly by cultural homogeneity.  One pair of blue jeans is easy to produce, transport, and dispose of.  Four pairs of jeans each for each citizen of a large country, and you've got the cotton industry wrecking farmland all over America.     

Removing jobs from *needing to be done* massively helps the human race as it reduces the total workload for all of humanity. 

Demonstrably true, but we do need meaningful things to replace all of that labour with.

No, the pains of this world come from daft encomic systems and systemic inefficiencys not from reduceing labour needed to achieve stuff.

Close.   No, wait, sorry I misread that.  You're right, but I suspect that we have very, very different reasons for calling current economic systems daft.  You want to go first?

—Harleagh
Wow this hand is amazing. Soon roobts will be able to do a lot of work that only humans can do now. And I have a feeling that they will do it much much faster.
A wonderful application for this newer tech would be micro surgery.. hope that is in the works.. wonderful work.. of course there is the downside...
—Anonymous
"The Foundation's Edge"
—Mule
Quite the reverse is true as man fears the bomb he will let these servents into the home.
—watch out

Oh No! The Robots are coming!!

Please give them this message!

010100000110110001100101011000010111001101100

101001000000110010001101111001000000110111001

1011110111010000100000011010110110100101101100

01101100001000000110110101100101001000010010

00000100100100100111011011000110110000100000

011100100110010101100011011010000110000101110

0100110011101100101001000000111100101101111011

10101011100100010000001100010011000010111010

001110100011001010111001001101001011001010111

00110010000001100110011011110111001000100000

0110011001110010011001010110010100100001

 

 

—Anonymous
It's when we become so lazy that we have the robots repairing the robots that we are in trouble. Why? Because who's going to repair the repairing rebots who break down? Don't say, "the repairing robot repairers", because I'll just ask, what about when they break down? and so on.

Could you imagine, people 100 years from now. "Dude, hold on, i'll catch up in a second, my shoelace in undone and my repairing robot can't fix my showlace (pocket) robot because it needs oiling, and I forgot how to tie my shoes"

This is where we're headed.

In the Matrix box set, they have a video on the Philospphy of the matrix where they discuss the possibilites of Robots controlling humans and running the world. I found it undescriptively funny when the guy being interviewed in his very calm, spiritual response, says, "My shoes are gonna just get up and walk away one day...if the robots do something wrong, you just pull the plug out of the wall. Cut off their power source. "
Basically what he was saying, is that there is always somebody operating them."

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