iRobot Hand For The DARPA ARM Program (Video)

iRobot Hand For The DARPA ARM Program (Video)


DARPA’s Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program, which was announced back in 2010, aims to build a robot that can do a variety of manipulation tasks with minimum operator input. One of the toughest tasks for the hardware team is developing a reliable and low-cost hand for the robot. iRobot and researchers at Harvard and Yale appear to have come up with a solution.

Their hand that you see above has fingers capable of surviving hits from a baseball bat and that can lift 50 pounds as you will see in the video. From a basketball to a pin, its three fingers can pick up a variety of objects. And it costs just $3,000. In comparison, the average cost of a military-grade robot hand in 2010 was around US$50,000.

But a lot of research and development is still left in the ARM program. While the hardware team will focus on building a complete robot, many others will be working on AI software which will require some serious work.

The software system must enable the GFE (Government Furnished Equipment; i.e. the robot) to perform the Challenge Tasks following a high-level script with no operator intervention. For example, the operator would issue a command such as “Throw Ball.” That command would in turn decompose into a sequence of lower-level tasks, such as “find ball,” “grasp ball,” “re-grasp ball, cock arm, and throw”.

Check out the video below to see the hand in action. It’s not creepy like an earlier DARPA product.