Reuters - Video

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

Business Travel

Quick on the draw - bionic arm set for space debris clean-up

Monday, May 12, 2014 - 02:28

May 12 - A robot developed by researchers in Switzerland has been 'taught' how to grasp a variety of objects in mid-air with lightning speed. Its developers say the research could be used to develop a grappling device to pluck space debris out of orbit. Jim Drury went to see it in action.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

UPSOT: ARM CATCHING RACKET The KUKA robot arm can pluck objects from the sky in the blink of an eye. According to its developers at Swiss Institute of Technology, EPFL, the arm takes just five hundredths of a second to react. UPSOT: ARM CATCHING BOTTLE Lead researcher professor Aude Billard says the arm is unique.... SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR AUDE BILLARD SAYING: "This capacity to predict accurately very complex trajectory of what we call the grasping point, which is non linear, that is the major scientific advance. And similarly to be able to control in synchrony the arm of the robot and also the fingers is another major advance." Originally designed for use in factories, the arm has seven joints and a hand with four fingers. Researcher Seungsu Kim says it has been programmed to operate in three phases. SOUNDBITE (English) SEUNGSU KIM, RESEARCHER, EPFL, SAYING: "First thing is to predict the whole trajectory. Second thing is finding best catching posture. And third thing is generating arm motion." But it took a great deal of technical research to train the arm. Rackets, hammers, balls, and bottles covered with sensors were thrown at the KUKA while motion capture recordings helped create models of their movement through the air. Ashwini Shukla says the team translated the data into equations that the arm uses as instructions to position itself in milliseconds. SOUNDBITE (English) ASHWINI SHUKLA, EPFL RESEARCHER, SAYING: "We gather the data, we learn models, which help the robot predict the optimal motion which will be successful in catching this object for reaching towards it and also closing the fingers around at the correct time." UPSOT: SHAKING WATER It even copes with objects that have constantly changing centres of gravity. UPSOT: ARM CATCHING BOTTLE The EU-funded research was developed in conjunction with EPFL's Swiss Space Center. One objective is to create a similar limb that can recover and dispose of space debris orbiting around Earth. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR AUDE BILLARD SAYING: "Assume now that the robot is mounted on a satellite and it's tracking the debris and as it's observing this junk rotating then it make inference as to what will be the next translation of velocity, so where this debris will be moving next and adapt its orientation to put the position of its arm so it can grab it and bring it back down to Earth." It's one of many ambitious goals...but no matter how it's deployed, the scientists says their robot arm is bound to come in handy. UPSOT: RESEARCHER SAYS 'Nice!'

Quick on the draw - bionic arm set for space debris clean-up

Monday, May 12, 2014 - 02:28

Money »

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)

Markets cheer Russia's Ukraine exit Markets cheer Russia's Ukraine exit

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (1:50)

Russia, Iraq push Dow to three-month low Russia, Iraq push Dow to three-month low

Thu, Aug 07, 2014 - (2:27)

Wall Street gains but telecom disconnected Wall Street gains but telecom disconnected

Wed, Aug 06, 2014 - (2:28)

Stocks zapped by energy weakness Stocks zapped by energy weakness

Tue, Aug 05, 2014 - (2:46)

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 »

"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)

The week that changed Boston The week that changed Boston

Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - (3:28)