Gape in Awe at these Super Fast Robot Hands


This robot has skills! Speed is the key to the sweet robotic hand from Ishikawa Komuro Labs at Tokyo University. We are talking fast. In the video you’ll see after the break, this robotic hand bounces a ball quicker than the eye can track. The same hand is able to catch a variety of speeding objects, twirl a stick with high-speed bravado, and even change where it puts its opposable thumbs. Not satisfied with that? Well, it’s also a key ingredient in the development of baseball playing robots. Singularity Hub has that video for you after the break as well.

A lot of robots can catch a ball. This one does it in high speed style.
A lot of robots can catch a ball. This one does it in high speed style.

Now, I know you’re wondering, who would win in a contest between the flexpicker and these Ishikawa bots? Well, my money’s on these quick and capable hands. Sure, the flexpicker is an automated wonder that makes Santa’s elves look like slackers, but can the flex picker bounce a ball while giving you the finger? Didn’t think so.

But why just compare hand speed? Quick hands are nothing without quick eyes. The Ishikawa bots use rapid laser scans (saccades if you want to get technical) and a ultrafast camera to track and predict where objects will move. Without these saccades, the hands wouldn’t be able to find the ball to catch, and they certianly wouldn’t be able to dribble a ball like a Harlem Globetrotter on steroids. Yep, these robots prove the old engineer’s adage: “if you want to make something cooler, put a laser on it.”

Now, for those of you who got a kick out of seeing robotic chefs working at a Japanese restaurant, this second video from Ishikawa Komuro Labs is really your thing. Different versions of this vid made its way around in the past few months, and these pitching and batting robots are still pretty new. Which is why they won’t blow your mind with their speed. But still, robots playing baseball – how cool is that?

Want robots to play more sports? It all comes back to the hands. Whereas flexpicker, the chef robots, and the batting robot all have great appendages, Ishikawa’s robot hands show the ability for robots to mimic and exceed human dexterity. The versatility of the human hand has held up over thousands of years of evolution. I can’t wait to see what the robotic versions achieve next.