Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Technology

A sense of touch makes robots more 'human'

Tuesday, Dec 31, 2013 - 02:41

Dec. 31 - Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing robots with a sense of touch. They have produced artificial skin that works with computer software to allow robots to physically interact with humans. As Ben Gruber reports, one man is already seeing the benefits.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Henry Evans is tucking himself in for the first time in 10 years. Evans became quadriplegic and mute after suffering a stroke in 2003. He now has limited use of only one finger. Evans is using a computer interface to control a uniquely specialized robot, one that has the ability to feel its way through tasks with a sense of touch. Speaking via text to voice software over a computer, Evans recalls his first physical interaction with the robot. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HENRY EVANS, QUADRIPLEGIC TRIAL PARTICIPANT, SAYING: "With the touch sensitive skin I can feel the robot keeping contact forces low but still in constant pursuit of its goal. I felt immediately that it wouldn't hurt me. But rather it seemed aware of my presence as it went about its business." Designer Charlie Kemp, an associate professor at Georgia Tech, says most robots are built to work on factory production lines, rather than to interact safely with humans. So he looked to nature to make robots more human-friendly. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHARLES KEMP, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "Biological organisms, animals, insects, they have tactile sensing over their whole bodies. Their entire body is sensitive to touch. And robots haven't had that capability, so one of the first things we need to give robots is the sensor, not just eyes, not just ears, but skin." And it's this robot's artificial skin that sets it apart, allowing it to feel it way through designated tasks. The sensors on the skin feed back to a computer program which models the environment and the arm's orientation within it. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHARLES KEMP, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "The robot, in every moment in time, it makes a simple model of its arm and the arms contact with the world. And using this model it makes predictions on what will happen if I move this way or move this way. And then based on some clever mathematics, it says this is the best thing I can do to move close to my goal while keeping the forces low." And Kemp says keeping forces low is the key to successful human interaction. The arm is flexible, much like a human's....and as it comes in contact with obstacles... it gauges how much pressure to apply to reach its goal without damaging its surroundings. Kemp says his team are now in the process of upgrading their robot by giving it the ability to map as it explores new environments. He says there is still a lot of research ahead, but believes that this type of technology will one day dramatically improve the quality of life for people like Henry Evans.

A sense of touch makes robots more 'human'

Tuesday, Dec 31, 2013 - 02:41

Top News »

Money »

Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark

Mon, Aug 25, 2014 - (2:35)

S&P falls back from record high S&P falls back from record high

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (1:35)

S&P 500 closes at new high S&P 500 closes at new high

Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - (1:24)

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

We've become a promotional culture-RetailMeNot's Bodge We've become a promotional...

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (4:39)

Dow back to positive territory for year Dow back to positive territory for year

Wed, Aug 13, 2014 - (2:18)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)