The tactile sensitivity of human skin is hard to re-create, especially over large, flexible surfaces. But two California research groups have made pressure-sensing devices that significantly advance the state of the art.
Japanís National Institute of Advances Industrial Science and Technology designed the RAPUDA, a wheelchair-arm robot that goes back to the basics of joystick-controlled assistance. Specifically designed for people with upper-limb disabilities, one at least has to be able to move a regular wheelchair joystick to operate the arm.
Many robots come with specific functions that generally can not be altered too much, but then that makes their functionality rather limited. These new Colony Scout swarm robots, however, are highly adaptable, as they can be given different jobs and be equipped with different tools.