Thanks for the link Elizabeth. That reminds me of the ABB robot arm painting people's dreams--actually, taking sensor data of sleeping people: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=254180
Your comment, Ann, makes me think about how much we can learn about human movement in the development of robots...even as engineers mimic human movement to develop robots. I would have never looked at the pinky quite that way, but it's true, isn't it?
It's pretty incredible, isn't it, Chuck? We don't often think of robots creating art, mostly just performing mechanical tasks. So it's interesting to see a robot taking a different tack to do something purely for the sake of beauty. And not so scary, though, if you think that ultimately a human did create all of that! Funny, though, how we think of robots as their own, autonomous beings, and forget sometimes humans are behind them (in terms of programming, development etc.).
GTOlover: When I think of the importance of a pinky on a robot, I always think of the scene from the movie Jurassic Park, where the robotic hands gently lift and re-position the dinosaur eggs. Pinkies definitely have an important role in minimizing handheld forces.
GTOlover, mimic doesn't mean "reproduce exactly," at least not in robotics. I was a little surprised that a pinky--i.e., a short final finger--didn't make the grade, but only a little. One of the main goals to be traded off in most of these projects was cost, so five digits weren't usually necessary. You don't need a pinky--as per definition given above--to throw a football, although a fifth finger is helpful. To throw it like a pro player? Yeah, it's probably needed. But that's not what these bots are built for. Plus, the functioning of only four fingers can be vastly improved over the human grasping system, as mentioned in a few of the slide captions.
Given that the post is "Robotic Hands Mimic Humans" and humans have pinkies, it would be good to include this appendage. I am not sure you would call the pinkie useless as it adds an additional control, like throwing a football. Yes it can be done without a pinky, but is it as precise?
Seems a lot of good designs already exist in nature and we just need to copy them to mimic them.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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