Disarm a bomb with your hand, a robot arm and Leap-motion controller

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Disarm a bomb with your hand, a robot arm and Leap-motion controller

Neutralizing explosives, it turns out, is a delicate and complicated procedure -- but a company called Mirror Training hopes to make it simpler. "Our company has built an interface that literally uses your own hand and arm to move a robotic arm," announced CEO Liz Alessi. "I like to call it 'wear your robot.'" The interface uses a Leap Motion controller to detect an arm and hand movements, allowing a bomb squad robot to directly mirror its operator's actions. In tests, Alessi says, it has allowed operators to disarm mock-bombs twice as fast as traditional control methods.

The team showed off a prototype at a recent Leap AXLR8R event; the demo rig is a little rough around the edges, but it clearly works. The arm follows Leap-detected movement with a slight, but acceptable amount of lag, and picking up and moving objects is fairly intuitive. The demo arm was also equipped with a camera, giving users a first-person view of the action, overlaid on a nearby laptop with a virtual hand. It's an easy to use and natural control method. Best of all, it's plug and play: Alessi says the the system was built to existing standards, and should be compatible any existing military arm and anything built in the near future.

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