updated 12:41 pm EDT, Mon April 1, 2013
Released video shows robot capable of changing wheel, using tools
DARPA has demonstrated the results of its research into creating low-cost robotic hands. A clip released by the agency shows a robotic torso using an ordinary electric screwdriver to remove the screws mounting a wheel to a frame, before removing the wheel and attempting to re-mount a second wheel in its place.
Existing robotic hands capable of mimicking human hands are said to cost around $10,000, according to the New York Times, though teams from iRobot and the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico hope to bring the figure down to less than $3,000 when produced in batches of 1,000 hands. In order to lower the cost, technologies and techniques used in smartphones and other similar devices are being employed by the teams in the hands.
The Pentagon has expressed an interest in the hands, as it wishes to develop a low-cost robot capable of detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by touch. DARPA is also looking into using the developments to aid those with missing or damaged limbs, such as wounded soldiers, by creating controllable prosthetic limbs.