Engineers have already accomplished the task of providing artificial limbs to amputated people. Now what? How about developing extra arms and fingers to aid in helping difficult to handle tasks? A while back we reported the “Supernumerary Robot Limb” project developed by MIT to provide an extra set of robotic arms. The project aimed to perform a two-man job single handedly.
The successful implementation of this project led MIT to develop “Supernumerary Robot Fingers” to perform a two hand job. These robotic fingers are attached on the wrist and extend from both the sides of the hand.
Two demonstrations of the robotic fingers have been given to prove its usefulness. The fingers can clutch a jar while your hand opens up the lid or they can hold an envelope down while your hand slits it open.
The researcher Faye Wu carefully studied a human hand, that is to say, how the fingers coordinate together to perform day to day tasks. She grasped various objects in her hand, positioned the robotic fingers manually and recorded the hand and robotic joint angles multiple times. Analyzing the data led to develop a control algorithm based on two basic functions of fingers i.e. to come together and bend inwards.
The control algorithm efficiently correlates the movement of human fingers with the robotic fingers. In this way the robotic fingers take the form which the human hand wants it to be in. These extra fingers are mounted on a glove with actuators connected together to exert a similar force as a human hand does normally.
Currently the extra pair of fingers can perform day to day grasping. However, the researchers are looking to extend the project to do heavy lifting as well.
It might seem irritating to have something attached to the hand but with training, you can get used to it. The technology is expected to improve the extra fingers in order for the them to fold up like a bracelet and pop up when required.
See the robotic fingers in action in the video below.