We've already created robots that are better at driving, cleaning, and detecting pollution than humans, so it was only a matter of time before they outpaced our sense of touch as well. The robotics masters at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering are working on tactile technology that allows robots to identify objects simply by grabbing them.
Using a robotic hand modeled after that of a human, the scientists overlaid rubberized "skin" capable of gripping delicate objects without crushing them. Using feedback from the fingertips — including resistance and friction readings — the robot can be trained to identify each item based on how they feel. Currently, the bot has 117 everyday materials in its memory banks, with more on the way.
The feature could be used in the future to allow robots to test consumer goods before sending them to market. Some day, a robot hand may judge the softness of your clothing, or even how ripe your vegetables are, before you ever see them in the store.
This article originally appeared on Tecca
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