From bionic limbs to sentient androids, robotic entities in science fiction blur the boundaries between biology and machine. Real-life robots are far behind in comparison. While we aren’t going to reach the level of Star Trek’s Data anytime soon, there is now a robot hand with a sense of touch that is almost human.
One thing robots have not been able to achieve is a level of sensitivity and dexterity high enough to feel and handle things as humans do. Enter a robot hand developed by a team of researchers at Columbia University. (Five years ago, we covered their work back when this achievement was still a concept.)
This hand doesn’t just pick things up and put them down on command. It is so sensitive that it can actually “feel” what it is touching, and it’s dextrous enough to easily change the position of its fingers so it can better hold objects, a maneuver known as “finger gaiting.” It is so sensitive it can even do all this in the dark, figuring everything out by touch.