Making robotic hands are feats for robot makers, even if it cannot function like the real human hands yet. Since humans already have hands ready to be replicated, what makes the robotic hand hard to create? This article will discuss the barriers needed to be broken to create robotic hands that function like real human hands.
How close are we to making an ideal robotic hand?
Currently, smart prosthetic hands are the only useful robots with structure closest to the ideal robotic hands. Amputees are the main beneficiaries, and the hopes of using robotic hands promise a life closer to having real human hands. One of the challenges of making one of the most intelligent and latest prosthetic hands is to make it affordable. There are things yet to be done, and robot makers are on to take the challenge of replicating the human hands.
Robotic Hands With Functional Skin
Appearance clearly separates the robotic hands from the real deal. However, there are much more than what meets the eye, since human skin has functional layers and a signature feel. More than just a protective part, the skin of robotic hands is yet to be perfected.
Soft and Flexible Parts of Robotic Hands
Currently, latex fingers are available to be installed in robots. Compared to hard metal exteriors, these soft parts are more suitable for manufacturing purposes. As expected, the wearing and maintenance problem of these soft parts is a major drawback. Robotic hands still need a material firm enough but still flexible, with cheap but environment-friendly processes to create.
Skin Sensors for Robotic Hands
Given that the skin of your robotic hand feels humanlike, it is also expected to detect touch and temperature. As of now, touchpads and thermometers are the closest things that we can use. However, the huge number of sensors will provide tons of information needed to be processed. However, most of the immense amount of data is irrelevant to the function of the robotic hand.
Versatile Robotic Hands
The ideal robotic hand is surely expected to be more dexterous than human hands. Acquiring the skill of musicians, craftsmen, and even making a multi-purpose manufacturing plant, can be done with an army of robotic hands. However, what we have are programmed robot grippers, which cannot cope with the randomness of the real world.
Versatile Robotic Gripping
The robotic hand should move properly to handle a knife firmly and handle vegetables delicately. To grasp things appropriately is an easy task for human hands. However, robotic grippers are currently limited to springs, pneumatics, and servo feedback programs. Also, to teach it which objects to deform or break is another thing that needs to be considered.
Versatile Robotic Fingers
Unlike the robotic hands, grippers are already experts in their intended use. However, grippers become outdated when the product needs to be modified. A versatile set of fingers will become helpful, with an option to hold appropriate tools for certain tasks. It is the point where a compromise is done when replacing grippers with robotic hands.
Removing Clumsiness From Robotic Hands
Let’s suppose that versatile robotic hands are already created, and can use and hold properly what it is intended to. However, just because a robotic hand can hold anything doesn’t mean it should. While this also applies to real human hands, we cannot deny that a clumsy robotic hand is a major safety concern. At this point, you will need to consider ethical stuff, which is always encountered when recreating human anatomy.
Awareness of Surrounding for Robotic Hands
Basically, the robotic hands must be aware of its surroundings first to know its boundaries. After that, you can start programming the robotic hands to learn about personal space. Proximity sensors are necessary, but let’s admit that robotic hands are blind without AI-powered cameras.
Real-World Interaction of Robotic Hands
After the robotic hands learn about everything around it, teaching it which objects to be touched and avoided are also mountains to be moved. It needs to be smarter than the expert grippers and versatile prosthetic hands before playing it around. Before expecting your robotic hands to
do productive tasks intuitively, it must be taught how to interact with the real world. As humans, we learn this skill through trial and error since childhood. Robotic hands also need to learn human interaction if needed.
Replicating Mental Machinery for Robotic Hands
Skilled people can even do their stuff properly with the necessary amount of awareness, thanks to the brainpower of humans. In comparison, AI (Artificial Intelligence) still needs to take a giant leap to use it to replicate the human hands. It is because the technology we have now is a far cry compared to what is needed.
Robotic Hands with Machine Learning
To program the robotic hand to learn the same way as humans, the robot should recognize first what works and what doesn’t. Then, the robot should search for other ways, also known as “learning from experience”. It is the system of machine learning that is currently being used, and simulations are done to implement it at lightning speed. An ideal robot must be able to learn skills instantly. However, machine learning means giving the robot unlimited chances before getting it right.
Defeating Moravec’s Paradox
The final boss of the game is Moravec’s paradox, which can also be exclaimed as “robots are smart yet so stupid”. To illustrate, it is like playing a chess game with your robotic hand, which can predict every move you make. However, expecting the robot to rearrange the pieces after you topple the chessboard is still a fantasy. The fulfillment of this quest is a robotic hand that can do both simple and sophisticated tasks intuitively.
The Future of Successful Robotic Hands
If ever robotic hands are successfully created, they will replace or improve the robotic arm, the current industrial standard robot. Robotic arms are reliable, versatile, and easy to program due to its wide use. Learning more details about robotic arms will help you take the challenge of making robotic hands.