Our robotic creations just keep getting smarter and smarter. A new robot created at the University of Tokyo is so intelligent, in fact, it can handle the delicate business of peeling a banana successfully — well, at least most of the time.
A team of researchers released their initial study about the robot earlier this month in the Cornell University journal Arxiv, and new video footage posted this week on New Scientist’s YouTube channel shows the bot in action. Two “arms,” each equipped with two “fingers,” gently rotate the banana and peel back the top of the stem. It then manipulates the fruit so the rest of the skin can be removed.
According to a report published on Thursday in New Scientist, the robot successfully peels bananas a little more than half the time. Typically, machines struggle with the gentle touch and nuanced motor skills required to handle objects without destroying them because no two bananas, apples or any other fruit are exactly the same. To pull it off, researchers manually controlled the robot for 811 minutes and peeled hundreds of bananas, giving the bot the opportunity to learn the art of peeling for itself.
Look Ma, Hands-Free!
One of the use cases that instantly comes to mind for such a robot is as a mobility aide for people who need help with fine motor skills daily. Patients with arthritis, for example, may struggle with tasks like opening toothpaste, using can openers or even peeling fruit.
According to the Disability Benefits Center, arthritis can actually become so severe it completely eliminates a person’s ability to work or complete daily tasks. If a robot like the one shown above could be manufactured for home or personal use, it might help handle small chores and give a patient some mobility back.
It’s pretty cool to see a bot peel a banana, but we can’t wait to see how tech like this is used to improve everyday lives in the future.
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