Assembly line robots have been around for decades, but Rethink Robotics is trying to make its latest robot helper a little more personal.
Sawyer, a lightweight “collaborative robot” designed to be able to perform complex and delicate tasks with precision, usually works with a standard two-prong “hand” at manufacturing facilities, but can be fitted with a variety of different appendages. It’s like a 42-pound Swiss Army knife with an iPad for a face.
Rethink’s UK distribution company, Active8 Robotics, also designed a five-fingered humanoid hand that fits on the end of Sawyer.
“At present robotic grippers for manufacturing are very simplistic,” Active8 Robotics’ Chris Williamson tells Inverse. “Our goal is to inspire the next generation of research projects to widen the use of collaborative robots.”
It’s cheap enough for universities to use, which means it could be used for student projects that could have wider ramifications in robotics. It’s not quite on the level of a true bionic prosthetic, but it shakes hands pretty well, and the advancement of low-cost humanoid hands means we could start seeing even more impressive/ terrifying humanoid robots in the near future.
The hand works as a standalone too, if you want to just have a skeletal robot-appendage sitting on your desk (for about $4,357, that is).