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Second-generation air-powered robot hand gets more sensitive

Tim Stevens

Accordions and robots don't seem to have much in common -- although an accordion-playing robot would make for a killer Weird Al song. Nevertheless, the RAPHaEL hand showed that push-box tech can make for some impressively limber fingers. Now the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory has created its successor, the RAPHaEL 2, and it too has already won an award. This time it grabbed top honors at the ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition with its air-powered digits, which now use a closed loop control mechanism and more advanced data acquisition hardware from National Instruments, enabling it to better sense what it's groping and to adjust pressure accordingly. It's also made of a more durable polycarbonate, but a carbon fiber version is said to be in the works, which should look totally awesome.

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