August 5, 2015: The researchers of Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a technique to provide more dexterity to simple robotic grippers using the environment as a helping hand.

The team includes engineers from MIT, one of Indian-origin, they’ve developed a model that estimate the force with which a robotic gripper requires to push against various fixtures in the environment in order to adjust to its grasp on an object.

For example, if a robotic gripper aims to pick up a pencil at its midpoint, however, gets hold of the eraser end, it could use the environment to adjust its grasp.

Super Dexterous robots

In such situations, instead of releasing the pencil and trying again, the new model enables a robot to loosen its grip slightly, and push the pencil against a nearby wall; the force is just enough to slide the robot’s gripper closer to the pencil’s midpoint.

While designing the upgraded model the researchers took into account various factors that include the frictional forces between the gripper and the object, and between the object and the environment, as well as the object’s mass, inertia and shape.

This partnering of the robot with the environment to improve dexterity is an approach, the researchers have termed it as ‘extrinsic dexterity’, which is an opposed term to the intrinsic dexterity of the human hand.

The new robots could be brought into use, in a cost-effective way to perform complex maneuvers and could be brought to you in manufacturing of medicines, in disaster response and other gripped- based applications.