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DARPA shows off cheap robot hand capable of delicate maneuvers

While we, as a technologically modern species, don’t quite have robot butlers yet, we have been developing sophisticated robot parts that could one day combine to form a very efficient robotic maid — or robotic soldier set on killing all humans. Whichever. A predominant bottleneck to the development of sophisticated robotic parts, though, is — like with most things — money. Now, DARPA is showing off a robotic hand that is advanced enough to perform very delicate, precise maneuvers, and costs less than 16 times the price of previous models.

DARPA funded innovative robotics developers to create a low-cost robotic hand that would replace the stiff, claw-like hand we usually see on robots. The new hand had to incorporate three or four fingers, as well as have a usable palm.

The results of the project, as seen above, are cheap, resilient robot hands capable of performing very delicate, precise tasks, like picking up a flat driver’s license from a flat surface. One impressive task that stands out, though, is a three-fingered robot hand (complete with palm) picking up a door key and then using it to unlock a standard door. Perhaps frighteningly, the robot hand then opens the door after rattling the knob a bit like in a horror movie.

The new robotic hands were developed for just $3,000 apiece in batches of 1,000 units, a drastic difference between the old price for similar units, which was around $50,000.

Yes, robots are capable of unlocking your bedroom door at night and paying you a visit. However, DARPA would have you believe that the technology will be used to perform dangerous tasks in order to lessen the threat to real, live humans. So, maybe that will help you sleep at night.

Now read: DARPA finds the best sentry is a man-machine hybrid

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