It knows its own strength
Though it may not look it, Domo is the first robot built to give a hug. Typically, robots use small force sensors to tell how hard they're pressing on something. But this only works if the sensors always remain in contact with the object. For example, if fingertip sensors don't make contact with a lemon in the palm, you'll soon end up with a glass of lemonade. Domo, the doctoral work of Aaron Edsinger at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was built to replicate a more natural sense of touch. Its "muscles"-motors called elastic actuators embedded in its fingers, wrists, arms and neck-sense how hard it´s gripping an object. The actuators aren´t completely rigid; the joints give a bit, much like ours do. Because of this flexibility, Domo feels an object pushing back against it and fine-tunes its grip like a good handshake-firm, not ferocious.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.