Technology

This robotic arm is capable of transmitting tactile communication for thousands of kilometers.

With remote control of a robotic armThis task can be significantly simplified if the operator can feel the objects to which this hand touches. This is the system that was shown at Amazon re: MARS Tech Showcase. Three companies took part in its creation.

The “heart” of the system is two robotichands Dexterous Hand, developed by the British company Shadow Robot Company. Each has 24 degrees of freedom and is equipped with 129 sensors that monitor parameters such as position, force and pressure exerted. Each hand is able to work with objects weighing up to 5 kilograms.

To demonstrate, each hand was also equippedadditional tactile sensors BioTac, developed by specialists of the University of Southern California. Each sensor consists of a soft, flexible skin simulator that has a fingerprint texture and is filled with liquid. When the “skin” touches the surface of an object, the vibration of papillary patterns resonates through the water and is determined by the built-in hydrophone (a specialized microphone for receiving sound under water). This allows the sensor to recognize the surface texture and determine its temperature.

Equipped with such sensors robotic armsDexterous Hand is remotely controlled by the operator (the developer himself was personally tried by the head of the Amazon campaign, Jeff Bezos), using special gloves that provide feedback tactile communication. They were developed by the company HaptX. Each glove uses a technology to track the movement of the user's hands and fingers, and is also equipped with 130 microfluidic tactile sensors, which ensure the transfer of touch to objects of a robotic hand by selective pressure on the skin.

Project development is funded by Japaneseairline All Nippon Airways. The show at re: MARS, held in Las Vegas, was the first public demonstration of the capabilities of this system. As part of a slightly earlier test, the developers conducted an inter-Atlantic transmission of tactile communication between the operator and the robotic arm. The operator in California used a glove with motion capture, and the roboruka in London received a tactile connection and accurately repeated all the actions. The manipulator typed on a computer, played jengu and rearranged chess pieces.

According to the developers, the system will beuse for remote operations, for example, to defuse bombs and remove dangerous objects from service. Technologies can also be used in laboratories where a person cannot be in clean rooms. Another potential application is the combination with VR and virtual worlds.

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