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This Week in STEM: A Robot Who Can Play Catch

Robotic Arm (image courtesy of LASA/EPFL)

Robotic Arm (image courtesy of LASA/EPFL)

Here’s an idea that’s close to our heart!  Researchers at EPFL in Switzerland have developed a high-speed bionic robot arm that can actually catch objects that are thrown to it (or at it).

The arm remains upright and motionless until something enters its field of view and then it quickly grabs it out of the air.  It can move in less than five hundredths of a second!

So far, the arm has been able to catch a ball, a tennis racket, a hammer and a bottle.  The robot is able to track these very different objects, measure and interpolate their axis of flight and catch them.

One potential application of the image tracking and interception technology is in studying “space junk” – objects of differing sizes and orbits that pose potential dangers to spacecraft and satellites.

Check out video of the arm below:

High-speed robot arm catches objects

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