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Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a robot hand that costs less than $10,000 and is capable of replacing a flashlight battery.
The researchers were able to scrimp in a number of clever ways. “One was scouring the globe for the least expensive, highest-performing components like motors, gears, etcetera,” says Curt Salisbury, the project’s principal investigator. “Another was to build the entire electronics system from commodity parts, especially those found in cell phones. We also moved from metal structural elements to plastic, being careful to design the structures so plastic would provide adequate strength.”
The article focuses on the potential of using such a robot hand to defuse bombs. I see it as a first step in providing amputees a replacement hand that is fully functional. And that their goal is to bring the cost down to $1,000 is even more exciting.