Lightning fast robot hand

Researchers from the Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo presented this incredible video of a high-speed robotic hand at the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. The laboratory's Web site has many more videos related to this project, called Sensor Fusion. Sensor Fusion: High Speed Robots


  1. Holy cow!

    This opens up a whole new way of thinking about robotic potential for me. As the voice-over mentioned (I’m paraphrasing), they can develop weird new counter-intuitive control methods that exploit the unique features of high speed motion. The best way of tying a knot at really high speed looks nothing like tying a knot at “normal” speed.

    I find this awe inspiring! It’s like they are just at the cusp of a whole new world of manipulating objects and physical processes.

  2. This made me think of Cory’s I, Robot story. Robots are going to kick our asses when then want to.

  3. Takuan, that’s tacky (but funny at the same time)

    Can you imagine that thing learning to play basketball?

  4. So, Robocop, instead of shooting bad guys, could turn them all in a big knot in 300 milliseconds?

  5. #10 Roboton:

    Or, for a pithier witty effect, you could have just said “Takuan, that’s tacky” ;)

  6. @#14 Neurolux: Imagine that thing learning to play guitar.

    Hell yes! It could do for the guitar what Conlon Nancarrow did for the player piano.

    But that would only be the beginning. Actually, this could potentially do a lot more. Perhaps such a system could become fast enough to watch the vibrating guitar string’s motion in detail.

    Imagine being able to pluck a guitar string at a precise moment in the string’s vibratory movement! You could time and position the individual plucks to emphasize certain harmonics, and diminish others. You could pluck strings with a sonic frequency that is entirely separate from the resonant frequency of the string. It could be like Tuvan throat singing for guitar, but much more precise!

    I’m still as amazed as I was in my first comment. This hints of a phase change in our relation to physical processes. A guitar played with this system could sound … absolutely nothing like a guitar.

  7. All we need is bringing battery technology on par with the rest to make this stuff really able to wander around without wires. That day we’ll also have family usable electric vehicles capable of hundreds kilometers trips at high speed for each *short* charge.

  8. Personally, I think all the robot designers out there should take a long hard look at what they are doing and stop. We all know where it’s going to end up.

    Killer Robots.

    Robot Police.


  9. @16

    I’d pay to see a robo jai lai game. This might be what the sport needs to make it popular.

  10. @16 – Robo Sport League – they could definitely program 2 arms to play the world’s fastest game of Subbuteo.

    Also, the bit that made me go GTFO!! was when it caught the flipping cell phone with its fingertips. Bwaaaaah!!

  11. Does it make me a bigot if I admit this seriously creeps me out?

    As in “I’m not even joking anymore, I’ve got a bad feeling about this” kind of creeped out?

  12. Did anyone besides me thought that robot at 0:20 was going to give the finger to the camera? “Up yours, humanity!! We are moving in!”

  13. Wow. When do you think it will be able to catch a bullet?*

    *Not an unlikely future goal, since this almost certainly has, or will soon have, military funding.

  14. I’ve seen parts of this video before. I was blown away the first time I saw it catching things in mid-air. The vid I saw, he just caught the bouncy ball, the cell phone was much more impressive.

    But the new footage that really wow’d me? The tweezers and rice. Precision and control over the tiny AND wicked quick reflexes?!

    The robot future looks amazing!

  15. Look, I just want to say to anyone worried about the potential overthrow of the Human Race, don’t panic.
    I’ve given it some thought and I’ve come to realise any digital lifeform viewing us would not consider our wholesale destruction. Far from it. They would find us quite useful and integrate us into their processing and power schemes. Not that we would know it, we would simply go about our business as we do now, unaware of our connection to these new forms.
    Dan Simmons, in his Hyperion books, considered the idea that an artificial intelligent race would use a domestic item to interface with the processing power of the human brain. In his case, it was a singularity portal to let people walk from one planet to another. I think a digital lifeform would use something a little more down to Earth, such as a mobile phone, to interface sonically on a subconscious level to the underutilized processing functions of the host brain.
    In years to come, humans and AIs will regard the Acoustic Coupler as this single most important invention of all time…

  16. One step closer to robots overthrowing humanity. However, on the bright side, one step closer to sexbots.

  17. I assume that most people responding to this blog are not from Japan. The responses about these robots are fascinating. American fear them as some kind of evil overlords (skynet) while the Japanese view them as helpful servants(Astroboy). These attitudes say a lot more about the culture of these societies today then about the technology.

  18. I believe BB already posted a video from the same research with the arm throwing the ball and that ball being hit bay a robot controlled bat. (Don’t start with me about my use of “robot”)

    Anyways, this was far more impressive.

    Indeed, I do fear for John Conner.

    I hope when they build the machines, they seriously focus on actually making them resemble the Terminator. If they’re going to make killer machines, at least they can be really cool about it!

  19. That was astounding! There’s no telling what knew manipulation techniques will be developed with this level of speed and coordination.

    Just consider the MIT DJ-I, a robotic disk jockey that unintentionally helped the researched invent a new method of scratching the disk, a rapid stuttering motion. But these robotic hands are far more of a departure from human-scale motion…

  20. @25 Anonymous:
    Every human advancement in every science branch eventually got used to harm or kill people: chemistry for poisons and bombs, physics for guns, electronics for more sophisticated or “intelligent” weapons, psychology for soft-torture and mass deception, just to name some.
    Only the fool would blame knowledge for its misuse, or should we hate screwdrivers or hammers because they can be functional tools for killing people?
    I welcome all these new developments and will try to be the one using them for good, no matter what the idiots in power are going to do with them.

  21. Imagine robotic devices with such precision, high speed robotic movement with robotic mobility like big dog or these small robots roaming free in the wild. You’d hear some metallic clatter, see something flash past you, or worse, if it meant you harm, you’d simply be impaled, electrified, injected, bludgeoned, or shot swiftly. Now transfer the images of precision, high speed to the realm of transactions. Such robotic devices could accumulate knowledge, model outcomes, execute transactions that will leave slow humans out of luck.

  22. Hey, people, don’t be so scared. The more versitile these things get means less drudgery for us. The cell phone catch was damned impressive, but it’s damned impressive when WE do it, too, when you think about it.

  23. Digging the cell phone flip.

    Not really sweating the whole “Evil super-genius electric scorpions on robo-crack are only minutes away from enslaving us all” thing. Being able to twirl a pencil and flip a cell phone are impressive feats for a man-made device, no doubt. And I’ve no doubt that some sociopath out there is already dreaming up the destructive uses to which a few speedy and ultra-nimble fingers can be put. But old Diddly Fingers there really ain’t near to being as much of an immediate threat to civilization as, say, an unemployed halfwit human freshly returned from the Oil Wars with training in the use of remotely controlled fully automatic recoilless grenade-launching .12 shotguns:

  24. All this talk of robo-sports reminded me of a so-bad-it’s-good movie from 1990 called Robot Jox, which isn’t what it sounds like but is instead a low-budget American version of a power ranger type giant robot vehicle fight. And it’s all on youtube!

    Also, just because they *could* overpower us, doesn’t mean they will. The only guy who needs to worry is the one who bullied or stole the girlfriend of the robot’s programmer. :D

  25. Holy SHIT that thing used TWEEZERS!!!

    I have never been – and I say this with absolute literal intent – so amazed by anything I’ve seen on the Internet in my life. My jaw literally dropped, and I always thought that was figurative.

    This is so. Cool. I’m going to have a new body built. Real Soon Now.

  26. I initially reacted with fear as many did above. After review of the other comments, I realize we’ll probably have some awesome sex-bots in our lifetime before the terminators show up.

    Would these sensors improve a robot’s ability to dance? Robot breakdancers would be the shit.

  27. @#55 Anonymous, You know, I hadn’t thought of that. I have been getting more cold calls from Insurance companies than I used to… Actually, how can I be sure you are human and not a digital lifeform checking up on how much I know?

  28. “American fear them as some kind of evil overlords (skynet) while the Japanese view them as helpful servants(Astroboy).”

    That’s because we have the worlds biggest military and Japan has been forbidden from having one for the last 50 years…..

  29. I liked the anthropomorphism and the little bow it made when using the tweezers. Very Japanese.

    Would like to see it pick up and use chopsticks, though.

    Guess it wouldn’t even need to pick them up using its fingertips – just tap the ends of them and catch them as they bounced up.

  30. well this is a definite sign of terminator ending… really? next thing we know we got robot snipers taking out a whole army in a matter of minutes

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