Researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a robotic arm that can catch moving objects thrown at it in just a fraction of the second. The robot process the path of the object and intercepts it at blistering speed.
The team used a method known as 'programming by instruction' to teach the robotic arm to catch. The team showed the robot possible trajectories that objects might take before manually and repeatedly moving the 1.5-meter robotic arm to the point at which it could catch a projected target. This form of teaching, which is inspired by how humans themselves learn, allows the robot to learn how to catch and apply it in practice. The robot uses cameras located all around it to build a real-time 3D model which it uses to calculate object trajectories.
Aside from looking incredibly cool, this technology has a lot of potentially important applications. It could be used in construction sites for example to catch people that are in danger of falling or catch objects that may fall onto people.
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