German researchers developed a robot that can perform complex tasks such as catching a ball in mid flight. The new robot called “Justin” is described as a two-arm-system for investigation of two handed manipulation.
The development of humanoid robots has made significant progress in recent years. Although several systems have impressive walking abilities, when it comes to their abilities to manipulate objects or interact with their surrounding they are quite limited.
To overcome this limitation, researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Robotics and Mathematics developed a human-like torso with two arms and two hands. Justin is used to test programming and control concepts for two-handed mobile manipulation, and in a recent demonstration was able to show impressive abilities including catching two balls in mid air just like a skilled human would do.
The researchers see the future of humanoid robots in household assistance as well as in space environments. Being able to carry out complex manipulation is key to creating a useful humanoid robot. For this purpose dual handed manipulation is currently a matter of active research around the world.
Justin does not have human-like legs; instead it uses wheels to move from one place to another. It’s lightweight arms have four fingers. Justin is equipped with numerous sensors (dozens of them exist around its “body”) as well as cameras which allow it to create a 3D reconstruction of the its environment and enable it to perform given tasks autonomously.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.