Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

This 5-fingered robot hand learns to get a grip on its own

10.05.2016

Robots today can perform space missions, solve a Rubik's cube, sort hospital medication and even make pancakes. But most can't manage the simple act of grasping a pencil and spinning it around to get a solid grip.

Intricate tasks that require dexterous in-hand manipulation -- rolling, pivoting, bending, sensing friction and other things humans do effortlessly with our hands -- have proved notoriously difficult for robots.


A University of Washington research team has custom built one of the most highly capable five-fingered robot hands in the world. They also developed an accurate simulation model that enables a computer to analyze movements in real time, and in their latest demonstration (beginning at 1:47), apply the model to the hardware and real-world tasks like rotating an elongated object.

With each attempt, the robot hand gets progressively more adept at spinning the tube, thanks to machine learning algorithms that help it model both the basic physics involved and plan which actions it should take to achieve the desired result.

Credit: Vikash Kumar, University of Washington

Now, a University of Washington team of computer science and engineering researchers has built a robot hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation but also learn from its own experience without needing humans to direct it. Their latest results are detailed in a paper to be presented May 17 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

"Hand manipulation is one of the hardest problems that roboticists have to solve," said lead author Vikash Kumar, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering. "A lot of robots today have pretty capable arms but the hand is as simple as a suction cup or maybe a claw or a gripper."

By contrast, the UW research team spent years custom building one of the most highly capable five-fingered robot hands in the world. Then they developed an accurate simulation model that enables a computer to analyze movements in real time. In their latest demonstration, they apply the model to the hardware and real-world tasks like rotating an elongated object.

With each attempt, the robot hand gets progressively more adept at spinning the tube, thanks to machine learning algorithms that help it model both the basic physics involved and plan which actions it should take to achieve the desired result.

This autonomous learning approach developed by the UW Movement Control Laboratory contrasts with robotics demonstrations that require people to program each individual movement of the robot's hand in order to complete a single task.

"Usually people look at a motion and try to determine what exactly needs to happen --the pinky needs to move that way, so we'll put some rules in and try it and if something doesn't work, oh the middle finger moved too much and the pen tilted, so we'll try another rule," said senior author and lab director Emo Todorov, UW associate professor of computer science and engineering and of applied mathematics.

"It's almost like making an animated film -- it looks real but there was an army of animators tweaking it," Todorov said. "What we are using is a universal approach that enables the robot to learn from its own movements and requires no tweaking from us."

Building a dexterous, five-fingered robot hand poses challenges, both in design and control. The first involved building a mechanical hand with enough speed, strength responsiveness and flexibility to mimic basic behaviors of a human hand.

The UW's dexterous robot hand -- which the team built at a cost of roughly $300,000 -- uses a Shadow Hand skeleton actuated with a custom pneumatic system and can move faster than a human hand. It is too expensive for routine commercial or industrial use, but it allows the researchers to push core technologies and test innovative control strategies.

"There are a lot of chaotic things going on and collisions happening when you touch an object with different fingers, which is difficult for control algorithms to deal with," said co-author Sergey Levine, UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering who worked on the project as a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley. "The approach we took was quite different from a traditional controls approach."

The team first developed algorithms that allowed a computer to model highly complex five-fingered behaviors and plan movements to achieve different outcomes -- like typing on a keyboard or dropping and catching a stick -- in simulation.

Most recently, the research team has transferred the models to work on the actual five-fingered hand hardware, which never proves to be exactly the same as a simulated scenario. As the robot hand performs different tasks, the system collects data from various sensors and motion capture cameras and employs machine learning algorithms to continually refine and develop more realistic models.

"It's like sitting through a lesson, going home and doing your homework to understand things better and then coming back to school a little more intelligent the next day," said Kumar.

So far, the team has demonstrated local learning with the hardware system -- which means the hand can continue to improve at a discrete task that involves manipulating the same object in roughly the same way. Next steps include beginning to demonstrate global learning -- which means the hand could figure out how to manipulate an unfamiliar object or a new scenario it hasn't encountered before.

###

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, contact Kumar at vikash@cs.washington.edu.

Media Contact

Jennifer Langston
jlangst@uw.edu
206-543-2580

 @UW

http://www.washington.edu/news/ 

Jennifer Langston | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Robotics computer science machine learning algorithms

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers take next step toward fusion energy
16.11.2017 | Texas A&M University

nachricht Desert solar to fuel centuries of air travel
16.11.2017 | SolarPACES

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

UCLA engineers use deep learning to reconstruct holograms and improve optical microscopy

22.11.2017 | Medical Engineering

Watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals reveals clues to improving solar cells

22.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young

22.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>