Inventors risk robot uprising by creating real-life Terminator hand

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Does this photo look familiar? If you're thinking "That looks like the hand from Terminator 2, perhaps a prototype for the movie," you'd be wrong.

Designers at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics in Germany (DLR) have just built a working robot hand. And it's one of the toughest robot hands currently made.

Wired writes that the hand is capable of:

exerting up to 30 Newtons of pressure with its fingers, plenty for either a stimulating massage or a deadly choking grip. It is also fast. The joints can spin at 500-degrees per second. If it tenses the springs joined to the tendons first, and then releases that energy, the joints can reach a head-spinning 2,000-degrees per second, or 333 rpm.

The Hand (it deserves its own proper noun) can absorb kinetic energy, necessary for catching a ball or pummeling human flesh. Its "tendons" are made from Dyneema, which has a strength-to-weight ratio 10 to 100 times that of steel. Dyneema is also 40 percent harder than Aramid, a fiber used for body armor. This makes this mechanized hand reasonably bulletproof. Think about that for a second.

According to Spectrum:

the DLR team didn't want to build an anatomically correct copy of a human hand, as other teams have. They wanted a hand that can perform like a human hand both in terms of dexterity and resilience.

In other words, this team wants a hand that's better than a human hand, a hand with our nimbleness and none of our fragile little bones and sensitive nerve endings. A hand that could crush without mercy.

Spectrum writes that:

Markus Grebenstein, the hand's lead designer, says that existing robot hands built with rigid parts, despite their Terminator-tough looks, are relatively fragile. Even small collisions, with forces of a few tens of newtons, can dislodge joints and tear fingers apart.

This new hand has "actuation and spring mechanisms are capable of absorbing the kinetic energy without structural damages," and is therefore super-tough. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are d—

Moving on.

So what's up next for the Hand? The Hand will be put to work on delicate industrial machinery and perhaps used to pet the animals at the evil petting zoo. Currently, the same researchers that want to unleash one of our worst nightmares are building a two-arm torso, for superior grasping. That's two Hands, attached to a Body.

After we take some deep breaths, we're going to look for Sarah Connor's phone number.

For a look at the Hand, and a glimpse of the damage it can endure, take a look at the video below.

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