Pentagon Seeks Robotic Hand With Soft Touch - InformationWeek
Government // Leadership
02:54 PM
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

Pentagon Seeks Robotic Hand With Soft Touch

DARPA invests in technology to develop more human-like robotic hands; iRobot demonstration shows promise.

Spy Tech: 10 CIA-Backed Investments
Spy Tech: 10 CIA-Backed Investments
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Department of Defense has demonstrated a robotic hand with finger movements that are closer to those of a human hand than the claw-like hands of earlier robots.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program released a video showing the prototype hand picking up a key, turning it in a door lock, and opening a door, among other tasks. The device was built by iRobot.

The purpose of the ARM program is to develop autonomous manipulation devices that are able to grasp and manipulate objects of various sizes in a real-world environment, receiving only high-level direction from human operators. The goal is to enable robotic hands to work in military mission environments, faster and with increased autonomy.

[ What other innovations has DARPA been investing in? Read 10 Breakthrough DARPA Technologies. ]

Contractors for the hardware part of the program are developing hand mechanisms with three or four fingers and usable palms to replace the pincer-type claws on robots today. While current technology costs about $50,000 per device, DARPA’s teams have produced hands that could be built for as little as $3,000 each, if purchased in lots of 1,000.

In addition to straightforward pickup of objects that are very small, awkwardly shaped, or heavy, the new wave of robotic hands can manipulate them between their fingers when controlled by skilled operators. This enables the hands to make use of tools ordinarily used by humans.

In addition to hardware development, the ARM program has a software track, which is developing new algorithms and ways the hands can grasp and manipulate, using embedded sensors. There also is an outreach track, which places robotic systems in public museums such as the National Air and Space Museum for demonstration purposes. DARPA also has encouraged companies and individuals to develop algorithms for robot autonomy, which can be tied through the Internet to a real system for evaluation and demonstration.

Uncle Sam's taken the lead on secure use of cloud services. Here's how FedRAMP can change your experience, too. Also in the new, all-digital Follow The Feds issue of InformationWeek: Candid career advice for women in IT includes calling work-life balance a myth. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
5/27/2013 | 3:26:04 PM
re: Pentagon Seeks Robotic Hand With Soft Touch
So am I reading this
correctly, I can get a huge discount if I buy these arms by the thousand? All
jokes aside this is really cool that a robot can have that detailed controlled
with small targets, and complete the tasks successfully. It is also amazing that
the cost of these is so inexpensive to make comparatively. DARPA has
successfully created the same product for a 1/16th of the cost, why
wouldnG«÷t you order these by the thousands?

Paul Sprague

InformationWeek Contributor
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll