Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why your arms don't suck.

Oooooooo..... me likey:




It's rare I see a product demo video and say, "Man, I wish my life would be longer so I can see the amazing future we will have." While I am fairly certain the yet un-purchasable robot above will be the cost of a small house, it is hard to contain my techno-lust. Having worked with a 6DOF robot before, they can be deceptively hard to program and without running a manufacturing line - the immediate utility of owning such a device is debatable. However, if these do end up being adopted by some manufactures, it does potentially reduce both the time to design/produce and the cost to manufacture consumer products. While this means the already blinding rate which new products are released will continue to accelerate, it also means that the bar for producing mass manufactured devices will also come down. As companies adopt re-programmable manufacturing/assembly tools, creating a new product may eventually be a matter of loading new files into all the machines on the floor. I think that's an exciting future and perhaps one day the "Print" button on your computer may take on a much more powerful meaning.

A small educational comment about the arms of this robot. They appear to be 7 degree-of-freedom arms... which is actually the same number of degrees of freedom that your arms have. If you grab a pole, or place your hand on the wall... without moving your shoulder (or your hand), you still have some freedom over the position of your elbow. But why do we need 7 when objects in the world only have 6 degrees of freedom (x,y,z, yaw, pitch, and roll)? The 1 extra degree of freedom is what allows us to reach around obstacles. If we only had 6 degrees of freedom, there would be only 1 way to reach out to pick up an object. So any obstruction along that path would prevent us from getting our food or some tool we needed to survive. Arms that contain 7 degrees-of-freedom have a dramatically larger operating range increasing their utility in uncooperative environments like the real world. For some reason, I find it quite satisfying that there is a mathematical basis for the evolution of our arms.

5 comments:

Bas Pijls said...

Arms FTW! Maybe an even a more important reason our arms have more than 6 degrees of freedom is to be able to exert force on objects in almost any direction we desire. Without this, even the simplest lifting task would be impossible.

Kerrash said...

Now we just need to use the Kinect to learn the motions from an existing human.

I call patent on that :)

ND Geek said...

Given all the Portal 2 advertising lately, this thing is eerily similar to the test bots in the co-op play they advertise on the TV commercials.

Shorinjiru said...

AWESOMENESS! Thanks for sharing. Appreciate the explanation about 7th-degree of motion.

owen said...

wow, that must be hard to program. I hope you don't have to program in the rotation of the arms when you writing the code because that would be pretty annoying. They should give it a head with eyes so that you can tell it to look at something and put it somewhere else. Yes it needs a head.