Most people couldn't even twirl a pencil in one hand. However, a group of brilliant people from the University of Washington have just created a five-fingered robotic hand that has actually taught itself how to twirl a stick.
Learning From Its Own Mistakes
Although some people might argue that it isn't that hard to teach a robot to do certain things, the University of Washington team's robotic hand was not programmed to simply twirl a stick (via Gizmodo). Professor Emanuel Todorov explained to E&T that the robot actually learns from its own mistakes, just like people.
"Usually people look at a motion and try to determine what exactly needs to happen," Todorov stated. "The pinky needs to move that way, so we'll put some rules in and try it and if something doesn't work, oh the middle finger moved too much and the pen tilted, so we'll try another rule."
Professor Emanuel Todorov shared that the program they used on the robotic hand gives it the ability to recognize what it was doing wrong to properly accomplish a task. "What we are using is a universal approach that enables the robot to learn from its own movements and requires no tweaking from us," he said.
What Else Can The Robotic Hand Do?
Twirling a stick around is not the only thing the University of Washington's robotic hand can do. The video also shows how the extremely dexterous robot can move all five digits with great speed.
In addition to that, the robotic hand has amazing reflexes and can catch a falling object before it hits the ground. The robot can also type faster than author George R.R. Martin, who has spent the last six years working on his next novel "The Winds of Winter."
It is highly unlikely that the robotic hand will replace George R.R. Martin in writing the sixth "A Song of Ice and Fire" book. However, it is amazing to see how a robot can learn to do things most people can only hope to do. In the meantime, watch the robotic hand learn how to twirl a stick in the video below. If robot hands are able to do this now, imagine what home robots like Roombas will be able to do in the future. Visit the folks at Smart Robotic Home for articles on Roomba comparisons.
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