Toyota has developed a new robotic hand, which it will be presenting at IREX 2009 (Nov. 25th ~ 28th), that can instantly sense an object’s weight, hardness, and flexibility (such as tofu) to automatically determine the necessary grasping force. The robot hand has been in development for 2 years, designed to pick up objects in a warehouse. The hand has two fingers and a thumb, each equipped with an ultrasonic motor and tactile sensor, which measures the friction and strength required to hold an object. It could, for example, automatically adjust the grasping force on a bottle as it is filled with liquid to prevent dropping it. Also, the motors have been miniaturized allowing the robot hand to be about the same size as a human hand. Capable of holding up to 3kg, the hand has exceptional strength compared to similar hands developed in universities which only hold between 100g~200g. The hand is controlled through a camera and touchscreen interface. Toyota is looking at factories and hospitals as potential markets for the hand.
[source: Robonable (JP)]