Raphael, the air-powered robotic hand.

The new ‘bionic hand‘ was created by the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, and was named: ‘RAPHaEL’ – Robotic Air Powered Hand with Elastic Ligaments. The students who designed the man-killing machinery will be splitting a $10,500 prize for winning first place in an innovative-design competition sponsored by the Cleveland-based Compressed Air and Gas Institute.

The new ‘bionic’ robotic hand that can firmly hold objects as heavy as a can of food or as delicate as a raw egg, while dexterous enough to make hand gestures for sign language.

RAPHaEL is just part of a larger RoMeLa project: The humanoid robot known as CHARLI (Cognitive Humanoid Robot with Learning Intelligence). The hand already is on its second prototype design, with the newer model to be used by CHARLI. Once the newer model hand is connected to the larger body, it will be able to pick up – not just grasp and hold – objects as would a person.

Professor Dennis Hong (Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engeneering) says:

“This air-powered design is what makes the hand unique, as it does not require the use of any motors or other actuators, the grasping force and compliance can be easily adjusted by simply changing the air pressure.”

Source: National Geographic

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Take a look at RAPHaEL at Youtube:

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