Have you ever had those moments when you wished you had an extra pair of hands? I think everyone has had that experience at least once in his life. I know Wolowitz did! For the sake of those who have not seen that TBBT season 4 episode, I will not divulge details any further. Let me give you this quote as a teaser, though (not verbatim, based on memory):
Nurse: Where is the rest of the robot?
Wolowitz: I only made the arm/hand.
Nurse: Oh, because that is all that you need, isn’t it?
Now go watch that episode – you won’t regret it!
This is not about TBBT, though. It’s about this new robot arm that a team led by Eric Brown has developed. Dubbed the Universal Gripper, the prototype does not have a hand as we conventionally perceive one. Instead of fingers and a palm, the robot has a beanbag. This beanbag is essential in the proper handling of things – force of the grip and the like. I think it is better if you actually see the Universal Gripper in action.
Imagine that – from a tiny light bulb to a heavy shock absorber to a delicate raw egg, this robot can pick them up! It can even write!
One question does stand out: can a simple blob ever replace the functionality that four fingers and a thumb provide? As cool as this robot arm is, I don’t think that Wolowitz will choose it over his own version of a robot arm. ;)