A robot which can pick up and plug in a USB cable is now a reality, thanks to researchers at MIT and Northeastern University.
Using a "novel tactile sensor", the robot can grasp the cable and insert it into the port. This is achieved via a "GelSight sensor", first developed by MIT in 2009.
The technology uses optics and computer vision algorithms to essentially provide the robot with a sense of touch.
It consists of a plastic cube with a layer of synthetic rubber and metallic paint. When light is directed towards the rubber it bounces off the metallic paint and is captured by an integrated camera.
MIT's "Baxter" Robot has one of the cubes on the tip of its finger, allowing it to pick up objects using its own "sight".
According to the institution, the development of robots being able to get their bearings mid-task without being pre-programmed is unprecedented.—AFP Relax News 2014