There are few formalities more terrifying than the prospect of having to shake hands with a potentially miscalibrated robot. If it misinterprets the size of your hand, it could end up crushing a few phalanges and create an embarrassing scene for both machine and master.
Boston-based MIT spin-off Robot Rebuilt is working on a solution by creating a more sensitive, perhaps even more gentle robot hand.
Eduardo Torres-Jara first began working on a robot named Obrero that is capable of sensitive manipulation at MIT, and now he's in the process of striking out on his own with a successor bot named Tactico that's even more in touch with its (tactile) feelings.
Tactico sports flexible pads that cover sensors to mimic the external ridges and internal nerves we use on our own fingers to keep from crushing wine glasses on a nightly basis.
In fact, as Torres-Jara told Boston.com, Tactico can delicately handle a glass of Merlot or a lightweight cardboard tube without ruining either.
So far, Robot Rebuilt has been focusing on the hand apparatus, but Torres-Jara says they're also working on a robotic arm.
Finally, robot butlers and waiters capable of the caliber of service that me and all my wealthy industrialist friends demand are just around the corner. Heck, if Tactico eventually kisses babies as deftly as it shakes hand, it could run for office...
See Tactico in action below:
And an extended sequence with a ceramic cup: