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Science Technology

On the Gripping Hand 162

eek_the_kat writes "The Sensor Fusion Project at Ishikawa Hashimoto Laboratory has developed a high speed visual feedback system called SPE-256. It allows the robot to track fast randomly moving objects and grasp them (movies here). The applications seem endless! I have seen many robot mpegs as of late, many courtesy of /., but these have to be some of the coolest I have ever come across. A must see."
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On the Gripping Hand

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Still cant do the ironing though!

    Or the hovering, or washing plates, or .....
  • Here's the shameless Google Mirror []

    A human being recognizes external environment by using many kinds of sensory information. By integrating these information and making up lack of information for each other, a more reliable and multilateral recognition can be achieved. The purpose of Sensor Fusion Project is to realize new sensing architecture by integrating multi-sensor information and to develop hierarchical and decentralized architecture for recognizing human beings further. As a result, more reliable
    • The site is reachable again. They fixed it quite fast!
    • Any reason the link you posted was to an IP? Seems like a crazy thing to do, since it could well lead to the google mirror being /.ed. That link presumably bypasses all their load balancing stuff.

      Not a biggy, just wondering if there was a reason that wasn't immediately obvious. (maybe that is the exact url that google gives out, which would be silly of them).
      • Uh... maybe the IP address is the address of a load balancer. With such a large volume of traffic as google I imagine actual load balancing equipment would be much better than some kind of round-robin dns system. In any case, I'm sure they know what they are doing.
  • How fast (Score:1, Redundant)

    by kamukwam ( 652361 )
    It seems that I can't reach the website, but I wonder how fast things can go if the robot is still able to catch them?

    Maybe we could see the first robots competing in sports (except for chess) in the next few years?

    • Re:How fast (Score:2, Informative)

      Got a look at two of the clips.

      I would describe the speed as on the order of 1/3 the speed of a dog being teased with a tennis ball.

      And the sequence looked about the same; the robot hand follows the ball back and forth just like a dog a then lunges out to grab it when it sees its opportunity.
      • Re:How fast (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Got a look at two of the clips.

        I would describe the speed as on the order of 1/3 the speed of a dog being teased with a tennis ball.

        And the sequence looked about the same; the robot hand follows the ball back and forth just like a dog a then lunges out to grab it when it sees its opportunity.

        Another thing if you noticed, the motion of the ball on the stick *WAS NOT* random. It was basically back and forth.

        You could kick the ball around and the dog would still track it.
      • The motion back and forth is non-random, plus the guy stops to let the machine grab the object.

        Back, forth, back, forth, back, forth, stop, wait for grab. machine grabs ball.

        I dunno. It just seems like cheating to me. I'm not very impressed.
    • Why not chess? Give them 30 seconds per side for a whole game with physical clocks and see how they fare ;)

      I've seen real life chess games with 5 seconds on each clock. Pieces flew everywhere, player's other hand was always on the clock, etc.
      • Sorry, maybe my comment was not clear. I meant that in chess computers already can compete with and beat humans. In all other sports like football, baseball etc. it may be possible now in the next few years.
    • You mean something like Robocup [] mentioned previously [] on Slashdot?

      I have no problems reaching the site. Actually, it loads quite fast, I dare to say. So, maybe the connection between the US and Japan is saturated :).
  • Police Bots (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A tip for criminals if you get chased by a Police Bot:

    Don't run randomly, run in a definate pattern.

    Pr0n: getting too much? []
  • eek_the_kat writes :

    Looks like the poster had a direct experience with one of those robot graspers.
  • by mothrathegreat ( 542532 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:00AM (#6203547)
    I want one of these hooked up to my car alarm to rip the carjacker's nuts off.

    • by bishopi ( 662205 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:13AM (#6203567)
      I want one of these hooked up to my car alarm to rip the carjacker's nuts off.

      I was actually thinking one robot hand to grip the skull, and apply appropriate movements of the skull to allow a second hand (Johnny Scissorhands variety) to perform a random action from a shortlist - eg :

      a) Slash throat
      b) Remove eyes
      c) Pierce windpipe
      d) Tear nuts off and feed to criminal

      The possibilities are endless!


  • so how long untill honda stick this kind of technology in ASIMO and it goes super fast ninja style on everyones arses? just a thought.. it is scary just how fast it is and this is just the initial stages.
  • Seems like the days off CCD are numbered... this system uses VLSI instead of CCD, much easier to produce and integrate on a chips, heck, it IS the same technology they use to produce chips. Digital camera's are bound to reduce in price thanks to VLSI, already you can buy professional digital camera's using this technology, for an unheard of price. On the topic of this robot thingy itself: think some NASA scientist are going ballistic if they see this, they're also studying on this, but the results are A LO
    • by deepchasm ( 522082 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:40AM (#6203618)

      This system uses VLSI instead of CCD

      Erm VLSI just means putting lots of stuff on one chip (Very Large Scale Integration). Do you mean "CMOS instead of CCD"?

      (more detailed explanation) []

      The increased framerates possible using this technology, rather than CCD, probably help when doing fast motion detection as the robot in the article is doing.

    • Very interesting. What would happen if somebody came up with a whole camera and image processor on a chip which works something like the human retina (ie, pictures come in as photons, descriptions of objects and their spatial relationships come out as electrical impulses)? Or is that what the slashdotted article was about?

      Also, Alan Turing once said that one way to make an artifical intelligence is to make an artificial baby and then "educate" it to the level of an intelligent adult.

      I'm glad that robots t
  • What are you saying? When I use SPE-C, I can catch bullets?

    What I'm saying, is that when you're ready, you won't have to.
    • No gringer,

      What I'm saying, is when that time comes, you won't have to.

      (because you will probably dead from the all the rat tat tat of the urban terrorists uzi emptying into your chest)

    • With this technology it should be possible.
      On the other hand.. bullets travel pretty fast and creating
      a shockabsorber capable of actually "catching" the
      bullet would be nearly impossible.
  • by Goon Number 1 ( 168487 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:18AM (#6203576) Homepage Journal
    Here. []. "It looks like high contrast items are needed for the tracking system to work optimally, but a combination of sonar overlayed with ccds and IR would likely make that less of an issue. It appears that vison is done through a video camera that tracks the moving object, and in turn controls the arm. Also, interesting reflex action with the thumb serving to close the hand once contact is made. Hmm, as I watch more of the videos I'm less and less impressed, It looks like the handler is actually all but feeding the objects to the arm, not unlike teaching a kid to catch a ball by placing it in their hands. That's a shame really." (Edited for spelling)
    • I agree for some of those videos, but in "hand-arm.mpeg", for instance, as soon as he holds the block
      still for a second, the arm distinctly reaches out and grabs it. What I'm curious about is what causes
      the arm to stop simply following the object and actually try to grab it.

      • as soon as he holds the block still for a second, the arm distinctly reaches out and grabs it. What I'm curious about is what causes the arm to stop simply following the object and actually try to grab it.

        I think you answered your own question.

        • Yes, in the instance that I gave as soon as it stopped moving, the arm grabbed it. But is that the only factor that causes it to try and grab? It would be less useful if it could only grab objects that didn't move... Jw
  • to some it might not look like much, but this
    was quite impressive IMO.. things are indeed
    moving forwards in the field of robotics, and who
    knows maybe we WILL see human-like robots in our
    lifetime, if only as walmart clerks and the likes :D
  • Is it real? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NemesisStar ( 619232 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:23AM (#6203590)
    First up, hooray for me I managed to get to the site before it got slashdotted.

    Ok, now that I'm done with that, am I the only one that's dubious as to whether this is real or not? Admittedly I've only inspected the videos and not checked out the rest of the site, but it looks to me as though a lot of those moves can be programmed in and "acted" out by the object.

    The best example of this is the handshake. Notice how the hand is not even in the right position to SHAKE a hand until near the end when the hand rotates 90 odd degrees (so it looks like a hand that could possibly be shaken) and then the human hand moves in nice and slowly. Any old dolt can shake a fake hand, I'll bet the robot hand doesn't give half as firm of a handshake as my little brother. :)

    It even looks as though the robot shakes the hand one more time than the human expects.

    I'm sure that they've made leaps and bounds into robotic hands, but I can't help but suspect that they're playing it up for more than it's worth.
    • I suspect the dude was more concerned about his hand being torn off or crushed like putty !!
    • Had the same thoughts, generally. But reading the various textsnippets, they seem honest (yea, who can tell) the reason for the 'extra handshake' might be their implementation of a calculation trick (smart) that calculates how to move in the opposite direction BEFORE movement is completed, some kind of seeing ahead, figuring out what to do after the thing it is actually doing (wow, sounds non sensical, i know) Also, they use a virtual layer around objects, like if you have that cube, it calculates a virtual
      • Re:Is it real? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ecarlson ( 325598 )
        > But still... that handshake looked really fishy, esp. the 90 degree rotation....

        To me it looks like the robot arm was programmed to go into handshake mode (rotate 90 degrees, and get ready to track up and down) when it sees the human hand moving up and down. It didn't look fishy at all.

        Also, according to the block diagram, there is a second video camera, but I don't know if it was used to aid 3D object location.
    • Creepy hand (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spineboy ( 22918 )
      I don't know about you guys, but this thing
      CREEPED ME OUT! I got the willies just looking at it. The way it moves is so un-human, un-animal..

      umm yah it's cool, but brrrrrrrr - gives me the shivers. Anyone else agree?
      • Yeah, I got a little creeped out as well.. I think the reason it's kinda creepy is that its metal trying to move like a human. It's really in the middle ground between inorganic movements and organic movements, and to us, this is wholly unnatural.. I guess we're just not used to it. Who knows? This thing may be giving you a massage in the future..
      • Haha, I work at Barrett Technology, the company that sold (and created) the robot arm that is used in these videos. The entire office has the same reactions when we watch one of our arms run. The reason it was chosen by the university was because it is really fast. Their arm is entirely cable driven. There are 4 degree's of freedom, with each motor residing in the base of the robot. Cable and pulley systems are used to create joint movements. It's a real elegant design, and the finished product is mes
    • I think the hand is just a bad example; nobody'd like to get a firm handshake from a robot... it's scary, you know. I think we'll never shake hands with robots - especially not when they look like robots and have metal hands.

      When you look at the avoiding-video, it's very clear the behavior is preprogrammed; the hand moves when the object comes at clearly visible range from the hand. It has to be - you somehow have to tell a robot what is has to do and therefore it'll always look preprogrammed. But that doe
      • by mtec ( 572168 )
        >>nobody'd like to get a firm handshake from a robot... it's scary, you know.

        But what if you just sold the robot a used car? How else could you close the deal?
    • The videos here [] look much more 'real' and not so pre-planned.

      The 1ms [] page also has some good video, although I might still question the square / circle demo, as it might just as well keep the circle out of the field of view of the camera. Anyway, this page explains that they are achieving 1ms response time by integrating simple image processing with the photodetection circuitry to elimate having to wait for an entire frame from the CCD.

  • Fishing (Score:5, Funny)

    by jabbadabbadoo ( 599681 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:34AM (#6203607)
    Well, once they get out a waterproof version, I'll program one to catch fish. Yum, yum. Can't wait.
    • 1. Develop high speed tracking and grasping robot 2. Create water proof version 3. ????? 4. Sell to pr0n company and Profit!!!!!
  • Is it real? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <kai@automatica.c[ ]au ['om.' in gap]> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:37AM (#6203611) Homepage
    It looks like the camera is doing some pretty funky location detectiion - in 3D.
    I could only see one camera in their schematics and in all the videos.
    How does the robot arm locate the object in a 3 dimensional space, using only one eye?
    Other than that, it looks very cool...
    • Re:Is it real? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BooRadley ( 3956 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @08:09AM (#6203713)
      How does the robot arm locate the object in a 3 dimensional space, using only one eye?

      The "eye" is really a high-speed sensor for a system of computers. The computers make calculations based on the fixed location of the camera and the variable, but known location of the robotic hand to determine the location in 3D space of the target. Then the target is stationary past a certain threshold time, the hand reaches out to grab it.

      The computer array constantly updates the position of the arm and hand to try and match the location of the target, and that's where you get the illusion of human movement.

      The human-like hand on the end of this arm is probably for the psychological benefit of investors, who would probably shit their pants at the sight of a high speed robotic claw grasping things dangled in front of it.

    • Re:Is it real? (Score:3, Interesting)

      How does the robot arm locate the object in a 3 dimensional space, using only one eye?

      I'd be more impressed if they used two cameras to simulate "depth perception", myself. I have yet to hear of a setup that used stereoscopic vision.

      As to your question, try covering one eye (you good eye, too!), picking up a spoon, and then trying to touch it to something in three-space. It's not as hard as some would have you believe, and I suspect it won't be as hard for a computer to pick it up, either.
      • Re:Is it real? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zmooc ( 33175 ) <.ten.coomz. .ta. .coomz.> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @11:31AM (#6204386) Homepage
        When picking up a spoon, you can feel the object it's lying on. Try putting a pretty tall object on a flat surface and look at the top from the side on a distance with a stretched arm so you can just reach it. Now don't look at the flat surface but just at the top of the object (as if it was somewhere in the air without any point of reference to help you - like the robot). Try to fetch it. It's a lot harder now.

        In the more advanced examples it did use stereoscopic vision. Look at the one where it repeatedly catches a ball. The same for the video where it catches a ball which falls vertically. Only in the tracking-examples it did use a single camera if I recall correctly.

      • Yes, but it is basically a 2D process.... look at all the motion of the object being grasped, it's all in a single plane.

        I'd guess that most of the matching is being done in 2D, and grasping might be initiated when sensors in the hand itself contact the object.

        Pretty amazing behaviour notwithstanding.
    • Actually, there has been quite a bit of work on this subject. There has in fact been a fair amount of success in determining the geometry of three dimensional objects with a single camera based on a combination of their changing aspect during rotation and their relationship to their background. Unfortunately IANAMathematician like my friend Adam, who buys a shitload of books on the subject. He's a game programmer type who's seriously into physics and math (same thing, just that one's applied and involves th
      • Now that I have watched the videos I am even more sure that this is what they are doing. Note how they move the object all over the place before the arm seems to be interested in grabbing it, though it does move around, further lending credence to my suggestion that it's using itself as reference.

        This is especially apparent in the handshake demo, in which the man moves his hand in two directions.

  • Looks familiar... (Score:2, Informative)

    by BenPollinger ( 78575 )
    This looked familiar - it's not so new, as it was on BoingBoing last October 7387 []

    see also [] []

    But it's still quite amazing - that's why it stuck in my mind I s'pose
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It looks just like a person playing games with a dog! My girlfriend's terrier plays like that, tracking a waved object, waiting until it slows down enough to be grabbable and then darting in. Wonder if the reserachers had to play with their robot to train it?
  • by allanj ( 151784 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:43AM (#6203628)

    I'd like to know how many times it fails before it manages to grasp the objects. If it fails, like, 50 times for each success, then I'm a lot less impressed. I saw the videos (server not slashdotted form where I sit), and the speed and precision with which the hand moves around is really impressive - sure hope this is for real.
    I've been doing some robot control software myself (trying to make it drive towards a moving target, using vision guidance) and that much simpler task was hard enough.

  • Applications? (Score:3, Informative)

    by the uNF cola ( 657200 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:45AM (#6203632)
    Well, I can think of two :)

    sluggy glove ref 0 []
    sluggy glove ref 1 []

  • Real improvement (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Seems like a real improvement. It's hard to tell exactly from the movies, but I have the impression that they have improved the 'grasping process' considerably. I mean, putting the right amount of pressure, at the right angle at the right moment is very difficult at best and is closely related to vision. They developed their own vision system and validate it in a 'robotic environment'. A good piece of research that needs to be continued for sure!
  • Rumor... (Score:4, Funny)

    by SushiFugu ( 593444 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:46AM (#6203636)
    Rumor has it that the secret behind the robot's technology is actually the Nintendo Power Glove...
  • Be afraid (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:47AM (#6203641)
    That's what the hand will look like that slashes your throat in 2035 because it's more efficient to arm the extermination robots with knives rather than bullets that have to be replaced.

    At the Safety Checkpoints, at the mall, at schools they could be seen, light glinting from faceted metal skulls as they scanned all who passed.

    It was during a live 5am broadcast one morning of Bush's 8th consecutive term when he'd slurred out an announcement about his "little buddies" helping out in the war against terrorism. A week later, a million robots were killing all life forms that had appendages that could be loosely identified as "arms" due to a coding error that failed to properly identify the context of what coud be construed as a weapon. The last words most people heard for many months was "For the last time, I order you to drop your weapons!"

    But even more gruesome scenes were to come when the robots began filtering back to weapons collection centers where they deposited the "weapons" they'd siezed and arranged them by species and appendage. Some of the more creative ones had broken into zoos and aquariums. And while
    most of the government officials were partying in another globalist meeting in Zurich, there was noone home to put a halt to the prescripted robot-press event that would automatically photograph the results of the terrorist sweeps.

    One of the last images the human race would ever broadcast into space was of a smiling robot holding up a pair of severed, bloody, duck-feet and proclaiming "We must be forever vigilant in our fight against terrorists!"
    • Somehow I doubt they'd want their robots getting that close to a human. We may not be as fast, but there are many ways to hold an assailant armed only with a knife at bay. Why risk having a human destroy/damage the robot in close combat? I think that bullets will still be the mode du jour, unless they come up with some super-efficient energy thingy.

      What's more frightening is the prospect of a vision system that becomes super-efficient at directing shots at a human shot, one kill. Not a ba
      • I personally think it's easier to make a robot that can accurately shoot stuff at reasonable distances away (500m), than it is to get one to do close combat with a knife.

        Another thing, a robot can carry a lot more bullets than knives. e.g. even if a human gets stabbed but manages to jam the arm, the robot is rendered a lot less effective.

        In contrast it is comparatively trivial to program the robot to shoot something till it drops, then shoot it for 5-10 more seconds to make sure.

        • Or to program the robot to use air propelled rounds for close shots, then use metal detectors or X-ray's to retrieve the rounds from the kill. Save the explosive rounds for the far shots. Super-BB guns with autopsy retrieval for the close ups.
  • Aw, Mom! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <<gsarnold> <at> <>> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:58AM (#6203678) Homepage Journal


    Stop teasing the robot! You wouldn't like it if researchers kept taking your oblong right parallelipiped!

  • mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    i just put the movies over here as the site seems rather slow: PLEASE BE GENTLE PEOPLE!!! []
  • don't they go to the movies ? they are making a BIG mistake...
  • I thought I'd already seen all of the trailers for T3!
  • by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @08:11AM (#6203716) Journal
    i know from reliable source that this is not an inhouse development. It's just an arm they found in a steel-melting factory, along with a chip they haven't identified yet. And some frozen blubber.
  • Future likely application on a turtle ranch:

    Turtle owner: "Where are all turtles?"
    Cybogr the turtle sheppard: "Wait. I was counting them. One turtle, two turtles, three turtles... trrrr and suddenly they were all gone away, pro'ly off to someplace"
  • Just wondering about the timing between when the hand is following the object and when it actually grips it.. I think someone mentioned earlier that the object is actually slowed when it is grasped... didn't notice that so much, but there was a question of is there some arbitrary time between when it first starts tracking and when it goes for the grab? Possibly just so that you can see the tracking system at work for like 5 seconds... not sure And what happens if it misses? does it try again? Or does it tr
  • "On the gripping hand" :-)
  • I remember seeing it somewhere but can't seem to find any trace. In short, there was a robotic hand much like these guys use, but connected to a stereoscopic vision sensor. It was able to catch golf balls and paper airplanes thrown at it. Does somebody have a link?
  • by traid ( 679779 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @08:52AM (#6203795) [] (8mb)

    I tar'd all the mpegs into one file for easier downloading. Enjoy

  • Oh No! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Sunday June 15, 2003 @09:13AM (#6203845) Homepage Journal

    With the advant of such new technologies, I fear many people will find their jobs automated.

    Rat catchers, while not such a profession of pride, will now have a hard time finding work once this goes mainstream.

    This device is a boon to the rat catcher industry and I would like to personally convey my feelings of grief for those who will now feel the boone new technology brings to their job market.

    Joe Bob, a rat catcher since 12, had this to say: "Damn, Pa' always tol me and my brother we was chasin a pipe dream. I knewd I shoulda listened and hopped onto the IT market." (IT standing for Interstate Trucker)

    Joe Bob, already forseeing the doomed market, has decided to persue his dreams and earning his MSCE certifications.

    Truely a sad day.
    • Remember this one? 6
      If you could integrate the two...
      Imagine a school full of ADHD kids: Spitballs and paper-airplanes intercepted in mid air, offending kids automatically sucked up into a "cage" for "time out". (Remembering what an ass I was in Junior High)
  • Does this mean it could catch that da*n fly?

    Would certainly save in window cleaning :/
    • Dann? Dagn? Daan? WHAT'S BEHIND THE SPLAT AAAAARGH IT'S KILLING ME!!! Damn, damn, damn, the splat. Damn it straight to hell.

  • Mirror: (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Mirror for both sites: []
  • I want to set up a couple of robotically-aimed low-powered LASERs in my backyard that are programmed to target small flying insects.
  • by Ledneh ( 673693 )
    You know, if they made these things small enough, then someone finally built a better mousetrap. Kudos. ;)
  • I watched the first arm mpeg video while listening to a rather funky remix of the original Metal Gear theme (From Overclocked Remix if you're curious) and as the guy waved the object in front of the arm and it responded, it looked very funky as it moved to the beat. I think we have our next avant garde music video.
  • I bet Slashdot would run a whole lot better if they replaced the editors with this gripping hand.

    Witness the date, folks:

    • 2002-10-14 14:53:43 The Attack of the Robotic Hand (science,science) (rejected)

    I tried twice. I bet it's my ungeeky signature. Yes, that must be it.

  • If a scriptkiddie got his grubby hands on a pair of these, he could kick every master ninja's ass with his "r0uc][1Ng-t1G3r.bas"!
    Jackie Chan, Master Splinter, Look Out!
  • This should _so_ have been titled, "Where's Waldo?"

    [Bonus points to thems who get both allusions.]

  • They have some other cool robots on that site that can catch falling balls.
  • Tracking and catching. With speed.
    My cat is good at this. 6^)
  • Think of this, we create a fast enough robot, we could use it for self- defense, who wants to get into a weapon fight with something that can remove the weapon from your hand in 500ms...

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!