This five-fingered robot hand learns to get a grip on its own

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This five-fingered robot hand can learn how to perform dexterous manipulation -- like spinning a tube full of coffee beans -- on its own, rather than having humans program its actions.University of Washington Robots today can perform space missions, solve a Rubik's cube, sort hospital medication and even make pancakes. But most can't manage the simple act of grasping a pencil and spinning it around to get a solid grip. Intricate tasks that require dexterous in-hand manipulation -- rolling, pivoting, bending, sensing friction and other things humans do effortlessly with our hands -- have proved notoriously difficult for robots. Now, a University of Washington team of computer scientists and engineers has built a robot hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation but also learn from its own experience without needing humans to direct it. Their latest results are detailed in a paper to be presented May 17 at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.