High five! Russian students build ‘handy’ new robot for ISS

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Students from Tomsk Polytechnic University have developed a robotic hand that copies the movements of a human hand.

The research was commissioned by the Russian Federal Space Agency, which asked students to come up with a design which would allow the placing of a “hand” on the outer surface of the space station for astronauts to perform repairs and other technical operations without having to leave the station.

The robot consists of two parts: a manipulator in the form of a 3D printed “hand”, and a controller - a sensor glove to be worn by a human. All the information is transmitted wirelessly between the two components. 

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Researchers also see other potential for the “hand”, not just in the space industry. 

Egor Shelomentsev, head of the research team, gave his thoughts on the uses of the robot: “There are many ways in which the manipulator can be used. It can help train patients who need to restore muscles after having suffered a stroke or undergone surgery. If you wear the glove on your good hand and put a patch on the damaged one, it will copy the other hand’s movements and help stretch and tone the muscles.”

The next step for the students is to create a robot which can imitate the whole human body.