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Soft fabric robot grips objects like an elephant's trunk
The new tool may someday be used in work that needs a light touch.
- A team of engineers has developed a shape shifting tool that can grasp strangely shaped objects.
- Unlike robots based on claws, this device can wrap around objects for a better grip.
- It could be commercially available in as little as a year.
A team of engineers from the University of New South Wales has created a strange new robotic tool to pick up objects with finesse. The device, inspired by the form of an elephant's trunk but having the movement of a snake, may be applied as an alternative to tools used to grasp and hold objects which are less flexible or capable of applying lower levels of pressure.
Dr. Thanh Nho Do, the UNSW Medical Robotics Lab director, and Ph.D. candidate Trung Thien Hoang were the senior and lead authors of a study published in Advanced Materials Technologies this month describing the device.
Most grippers used by individuals, professionals, or industrial machines are based on the human hand or a claw. While there are advantages to this design, it is not ideal for grabbing oddly shaped objects or ones that are much larger or smaller than the grabber itself. They can also be challenging to use with fragile items.
This is where this new design stands out.
As a long and flat object, it can take advantage of having a larger surface area than a hand or claw. This increases the holding force without needing to apply more pressure, a principle that would be known to anyone who has tried to hold something with their fingernails rather than their palm. The coiling motion is made possible by the "manufacturing process involving computerised apparel engineering and applied newly designed, highly sensitive liquid metal-based tactile sensors for detecting the grip force required," according to study co-author Professor Nigel Lovell.
It also features a very precise force sensor, which allows it to detect how much grip is needed and to prevent it from breaking the object. The grabber's ability to change shape is considered a further advantage, as it allows it to enter into small spaces to collect items, as seen in the demonstration with a pencil in a tube.
A prototype gripper used during testing weighed a mere 8.2 grams and lifted an object of 1.8 kilograms (almost 4 pounds) – that's more than 220 times the gripper's mass. Another one that was 11.8 inches long wrapped around an item with a diameter of 1.2 inches. The production methods for the device are scaleable, and variations of the design can be made much larger.
The researchers suggest that the tool could find wide application in fields where fragile objects are handled, such as agriculture, the exploration industries, rescue operations, assistant services, and other areas where claw or hand-shaped grippers are impractical or sub-optimal.
Dr. Do has also stated, "We are also working on combining the gripper with our recently announced wearable haptic glove device, which would enable the user to remotely control the gripper while experiencing what an object feels like at the same time."
He also suggested that the gripper could be mass-produced for commercial use within a year if a manufacturing partner can be found.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Britons could start receiving the vaccine within days.
- The U.K. issued emergency authorization Wednesday for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first nation in the West to approve a rigorously tested vaccine.
- The U.S. will meet on December 10 to decide whether to approve Pfizer's vaccine, which achieved an efficacy rate of 90 percent in clinical trials.
- Moderna has also produced a vaccine that could be approved in the U.S. later in December.
Credit: Lubo Ivanko via Adobe Stock<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/medicines-and-healthcare-products-regulatory-agency" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)</a> to approve Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use," said a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care. "This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness."</p><p>Why did the U.K. beat the U.S. and other Western nations to approving the vaccine? The reason lies in the rigorousness of testing on which nations are basing their decisions: The U.K. chose to rely on findings reported by Pfizer itself. Meanwhile, the U.S. is having regulators independently examine raw data behind tests on Pfizer's vaccine.</p><p>F.D.A Commissioner Steve Hahn defended the administration's slower pace on Wednesday during a Facebook live stream.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We have to go through it very carefully," he said, declining to announce a concrete timeline for the potential distribution of the Pfizer vaccine. "All I can tell you is not knowing the data, [it will be] very soon after those meetings. I don't want to get ahead of the data … it wouldn't be the first time that the FDA and Advisory committee has found surprises."</p>
Credit: Pixabay<p>On December 10, the F.D.A. will decide whether to issue emergency approval of the vaccine. If authorized, health systems in the U.S. could receive the first rounds of vaccines on Dec. 15, according to an Operation Warp Speed document obtained by CNN. The document estimated that 22.5 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine will be produced in December.</p><p>Moderna has also produced a COVID-19 vaccine with a high efficacy rate. The F.D.A. will meet Dec. 17 to discuss approving that vaccine, which, like Pfizer's, uses messenger RNA to trigger an immune response. Moderna says its <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/absolutely-remarkable-no-one-who-got-modernas-vaccine-trial-developed-severe-covid-19" target="_blank">vaccine has an efficacy rate of about 94 percent</a>; Pfizer reported a rate of 90 percent. Similar to the U.K., the first Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccines will be the elderly, healthcare workers, and people at risk due to preexisting conditions.</p>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.