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i-Robot: A new approach to robotics to make our life easier and safer, Part 8

Robots can help humans perform actions that contribute to increasing their overall quality of life. There are many possible applications of this concept, one of these is the robotic hand realized by the School of Advanced Studies Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy for a project, called Myki , funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

The robotic hand is able to perform accurate movements replacing the hand of an injured person, who consequently will recover the possibility of performing gestures that they used to be able to do before an accident. Furthermore, this solution holds the promise of giving back to the patient a quality of touch quite similar to the real sensation of a natural human hand: (See Figure 1)

Figure 1

The Myki robotic hand designed by an Italian researcher from the Sant'Anna School of Pisa. See this article and video.
(Source: adnkronos)

The Myki robotic hand designed by an Italian researcher from the Sant’Anna School of Pisa. See this article and video. (Source: adnkronos)

The range of mechanical movements that robots could perform upon command of a human is very wide: a good example is represented by the robot which has built the external walls of an art gallery building in Shanghai, China (see Figure 2):

“In order to complete the masonry process that cannot be precisely achieved with traditional methods, the architects applied robotic fabrication technique by Fab-Union, which utilizes advanced digital fabrication technology to construct on site. The external walls of Chi She were built by the recycled grey green bricks from an old building and constructed with the help of the advanced technology of mechanical arm, which generates a cambered surface morphology, showing the vitality of Chi She. The precise positioning of the integrated equipment of robotic fabrication technique transforms an ancient material such as brick into one that’s able to meet the requirements of a new era.” (Source: yellowtrace.com)

Figure 2

The sequence of automatized movements of the robotic arm that was utilized to build the external walls of the Chi She art gallery building in Shanghai, China (Source: yellowtrace-chi-she-art-gallery-shanghai-archi-union)

The sequence of automatized movements of the robotic arm that was utilized to build the external walls of the Chi She art gallery building in Shanghai, China (Source: yellowtrace-chi-she-art-gallery-shanghai-archi-union)

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To realize accurate and effective movements of a robotic device, the utilization of many smart electronic ICs with different functionalities is required. Let’s consider, for example, the microcontrollers whose goal is to check the data coming from the proximity sensors and then drive the actuators of the robot’s motors. An example of ICs that are utilized in motor control applications is shown in Figure 3:

Figure 3

The block diagram of the L297 a stepper motor controller IC by STMicroelectronics Company (Source: st.com)

The block diagram of the L297 a stepper motor controller IC by STMicroelectronics Company (Source: st.com)

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Robotics technology holds a very high potential to improve the effectiveness of operations requiring high accuracy. Do you think this trend will continue? Is this a viable solution?

5 comments on “i-Robot: A new approach to robotics to make our life easier and safer, Part 8

  1. theodore145
    January 17, 2017

    Robotic technology has always fascinated me, remains to be seen if they will one day be accessible to lambdas users

  2. kevinmn
    January 18, 2017

    Robots have always been very effective for precise, repetitive work, but for the most part they're also dumb as rocks. This is why robots are traditionally used only in carefully designed settings. It also explains why they cannot easily adapt to a new task, and cannot cope with an unfamiliar or uncertain situation.

  3. Crosscasko
    January 20, 2017

    Hello, more are the adventage of the technology and i'm a fan, so i'm a followers

  4. Victor Lorenzo
    January 21, 2017

    Wow! It is impressive how the time runs!

    20 years ago, or even more, I was a researcher at the CEETI (the Center of Studies on Electronics and Information Technologies) at the Central University of Las Villas, in Cuba, and at that time we were collaborating with the UNB (University of Newbrunswick). Our colleagues from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (UNB) were working on several projects related to smart prosthesis with great accomplishments.

    Of course we have access today to much more powerful digital signal processors than those we used at that “age” (like the old TMS320C10/C25/C32/etc.), but most concepts behind the hardware design remain the same, or almost the same.

    The concept of deep learning (e.g. pattern matching is at the core of mioelectric prosthesis control) has gained a lot of traction and adepts and every day less people think of “data mining” as an occupation where you need a shovel and a safety helmet.

    This video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybFhDz-cMrw) introduces several key concepts and showcases some results (near time 23:00).

    Probably in two hundred years or so we humans will come from the very beginning with a digital interface as a series feature for easy connection to IoT. And how the wheel works will still be there to be discovered, again.

  5. jsmith
    January 25, 2017

    good article. very informative

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