A few weeks ago, we discussed the terrifying potential for robots and artificial intelligence to “go rogue” and turn against mankind.
Far from sounding like the script for a Hollywood blockbuster, the possibility has support from none other than distinguished physicist, Dr. Stephen Hawking, plus Tesla Motors (TSLA) Chief, Elon Musk.
But lest you run out and try to secure some prime underground bunker real estate, there are some incredibly positive innovations taking place in this growing field.
London-based firm, Shadow Robot Company, just made the next move.
It’s designed a robotic hand that adds further sophistication to prosthetics and artificial intelligence.
The Epitome of Artificial Intelligence
Its invention, Dexterous Hand, uses a one-two punch of cutting-edge technology to make a robotic hand more lifelike.
First, the hand uses 3-D depth cameras to identify and analyze whatever objects it wants to touch. Then, the software arranges the fingers and touch-responsive sensors in the fingertips determine how much pressure to apply.
In the past, we’ve profiled other innovations in this area – including Swiss and Italian scientists’ creation of the world’s first bionic hand, plus how Argentinian designers used 3-D printing to give a young boy a prosthetic hand.
The Shadow Robot team’s Dexterous Hand adds another layer of invention by injecting a huge dose of artificial intelligence into the mix.
Managing Director, Rich Walker, explains: “What we’ve tried to do is put intelligence into the robot hand, and that means sensing. So we’re adding sensors on the fingertips, which can understand how the robot is touching the world and interacting with it. And we’re adding 3-D cameras, so the robot can see things around it and work out how to grasp and manipulate them.”
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Improving Lives… And Saving Lives
Shadow Robot Company is already taking orders for Dexterous Hand. And with a unique design, you might think that the team would lock down its technology to prevent others from copying it.
On the contrary.
In the same way as Elon Musk has made his exciting designs for high-speed, vacuum travel in the Hyperloop open source, so too has Shadow Robot with Dexterous Hand. That means other researchers can use the technology in their own work.
The reason, says Walker, is simple: “What we’ve found really exciting is that we have customers who are using this hand to develop next-generation prosthetics by looking at ‘What does a brain-computer interface look like to control a robot hand? How do you get that to work?’”
It’s even more important, given the potential lifesaving uses for a sensory innovation like this.
Walker explains, “We’re exploring applications of the hand in areas where you’d really like to put a person, but can’t. That might be a search-and-rescue scenario, where you send a robot in somewhere and want to lift something up, or move something out of the way. Or it might be working on a nuclear site, where you can’t put a person in, but you really like human agility and dexterity there.”
As you can see – and as technology has shown in countless applications already – when applied to critical industry and healthcare, robotics and artificial intelligence are proving essential in both improving lives and saving lives.
And with technology only evolving from here, expect innovations like this to improve with it.
Ahead of the tape,