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US research: Robotic hands, sensitive enough to pick soft fruit

A new breed of robots with humanoid hands capable of performing delicate tasks such as picking soft fruit has been made possible by a technological breakthrough from Stanford University scientists.

Researchers in the US have developed electronic gloves designed to give robots an improved ability to touch and grasp delicate objects in a similar way to human hands. The technology is likely to be useful for companies developing farming robots, which need to be able to handle delicate crops without damaging them.

Professor Zhenan Bao and her team developed a glove which includes sensors in its fingertips that measure the intensity and direction of pressure. The glove imitates the way that layers of skin in the human hand work together to make them sensitive to pressure.

Telegraph.co.uk quoted Professor Bao as saying: "This technology puts us on a path to one day giving robots the sort of sensing capabilities found in human skin.”

Professor Bao’s glove was used to touch a berry without squashing it and could also lift a ping pong ball without crushing it. Handling items like berries and other food is important for robots as companies have spent millions of pounds in funding on developing robotic arms to pick fruit and vegetables without damaging them.


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