Skip to main content

MIT develops seven fingered robot hand

Students at MIT have developed an upgrade for the human hand – an extra couple of fingers.

But don't worry, in order to enjoy the additional digits, there's no Frankenstein-esque surgery required, just the latest in robotic technology.

Read more: Robotics Mission 2014: Would you trust a robot like you would your computer?

The "7 finger robot" works by receiving inputs from a sensor glove worn by the user, which measures the position of the human fingers and then moves the two robotic fingers accordingly.

The idea is that the glove should be able to assist in the holding of large, hot or heavy items. Faye Wu, a mechanical engineering graduate from MIT said that the technology could be very important for the "elderly and people with disabilities," helping them to live more independently.

At the moment the project is very much at the prototype stage but Harry Asada, the ford professor of engineering at MIT's department of mechanical engineering, believes that the device could ultimately be seen as an extension of the human body.

"This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers," Asada commented. "You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers."

The aim is to make the wearable technology less intrusive and more natural.

Read more: A step closer to the household robot? Asimo can now run, jump and recognise voices

"We can shrink it down to one-third its size, and make it foldable," Asada says. "We could make this into a watch or a bracelet where the fingers pop up, and when the job is done, they come back into the watch. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to our daily life."