Suction cups, claws, mechanical hands with opposing thumbs: We've seen multiple solutions for what a robot's arm should terminate in, in order to perform useful manual labor. But this solution, presumably dreamt up over a late-night Chinese takeout session, is a first. This DX-1 'bot uses a gigantic pair of chopsticks to grasp objects.
"It can quickly move objects of assorted shapes and sizes — even heavy ones," writes the developer, Memphis-based startup Dextrous Robotics. "DX-1 can regulate pressure to grasp packages of up to 100 pounds without damaging them. It can manipulate packages as small as a sugar cube and as large as an armchair."
The two towers that support each "arm" each ride on their own separate gantry, allowing Cartesian movement. It's simple, clever—and a bit brutish, as you can see in the demo video below:
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Obviously the DX-1 is not intended to handle delicate items, as the design necessitates everything be flipped upside down. Instead it's been designed for both flexibility and raw speed. AI software tells the robot what it's grabbing (i.e. "Boxes, bags, polys, tires") and modulates the grasping pressure, and the company says it can perform 2,000 parcel picks per hour, versus the 300 to 500 that a human worker could.
And presumably, though they're not yet at the pricing stage, the DX-1 will prove more economical, if not quite as flexible, as say Amazon's humanoid robots. "The chopstick type of approach [has] a straightforward mechanical design," Dextrous CEO Evan Drumwright told IEEE Spectrum. "It's a real simplification of the grasping problem."
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