Lifelike Robotic Hand Is a Bit Too Close to Terminator for Our Liking

Called ILDA, the hand can use scissors, crush cans, and grasp delicate objects.

ByGeorge DvorskyToday 5:10PMComments (4)AlertsSome of the many motions the new robotic hand is capable of making. Gif: U. Kim et al., 2021/Gizmodo

Engineers in Korea have developed a highly dexterous robotic hand that’s capable of crushing beer cans or gently clutching an egg.

“Out of the 206 bones in the human body, 54 bones are in the hands, corresponding to a quarter of the total number of bones,” declares the opening paragraph of new research published today in Nature Communications. Not to mention the muscle structure that drives these bones, which is “also extremely complex,” as the paper, co-authored by Uikyum Kim from Ajou University in Korea, points out.

Indeed, the human hand is an extraordinary evolutionary accomplishment, which makes the new robotic hand, named ILDA (integrated linkage-driven dexterous anthropomorphic), all the more impressive. Its 20 joints allow for an impressive 15 degrees of freedom, and its fingertips can exert 34 Newtons, or 7.6 pounds, of force. At a maximum length of 8.6 inches and a weight of 2.43 pounds, the hand is both compact and lightweight. In tests, the hand successfully crushed cans, held eggs, and even used scissors to cut paper.

A cool advantage of ILDA is that it’ll be easier to combine with many existing commercial robot arms. For roboticists, this has posed a challenge because the actuators used for moving robotic hands, and also some electrical components, are often “attached in the form of a fairly large forearm,” as Kim explained in an email.

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