There is a new piano player on the block – a 3-D printed robot hand developed by researchers at Cambridge University.
Although the hand cannot move its fingers independently, it uses its wrist to move the entire hand to play simple musical compositions. Taught to play several tunes, it showed off its skill on the Christmas carol Jingle Bells (video above).
The hand was made by 3-D printing soft and rigid materials together to simulate the bones and ligaments in a human hand, though not the muscles or tendons. The process revealed how challenging it is to replicate the movements of an actual hand. Still, the scientists were surprised by how much of these complex movements could be mimicked through design.
“Smart mechanical design enables us to achieve the maximum range of movement with minimal control costs: we wanted to see just how much movement we could get with mechanics alone,” said Josie Hughes, the first author of the paper published in the journal Science Robotics.