Robotics are exciting and terrifying, if the latest personal android being offered is anything to go by. A company called Clone Robotics dropped a video yesterday revealing what its latest robotic hand can do. And nothing can convince us that the people making these are not cyborg wizards from the future.
In the video, the company demonstrates the elasticity of the synthetic hand. Its likeness to a human hand is mind-boggling.
The Clone hand is a 1:1 copy of the typical human hand, and it includes a recreation of ligaments, bones, tissues, muscles, fat, and anatomical structures that are in a real human hand.
Clone Robotics claim that personal androids that will help humans with everyday tasks are closer than ever.
Robotics: Utopia or dystopia?
Why the hand first? The company says that the world is designed for human hands, and shares that humans have built countless tools intended to be used by them. While the idea of having slave robots might be a dream come true, what if it all goes wrong? Haven’t we all seen the Terminator movies?
There is arguably huge potential to do great things with robot slaves. Robots will be perfect for environments that are unsafe for humans, like nuclear waste facilities, space stations, rubbish tips and chemical plants.
Clone was started in 2021 by Łukasz Kozlik and Dhanush Radhakrishnan. The mission is to build low-cost, synthetic humans that will be designed to perform labour in everyday life.
In an introductory video, Radhakrishnan shared that today, “we are witnessing mentally and physically exhausting work in factories and on production lines, [with] repetitive activities [that] turn workers into machines. Many of them suffer serious injuries to their health and work conditions have poor safety standards.”
Clones on the market soon
Radhakrishnan says that the clones will hit the market in 2024. “We decided to start with the hard problems first, and the hard problem is making durable human-level hands. The human hand is the most sophisticated part of the human body, and the clone hand is a one-to-one copy, and one of the first musculoskeletal robots in the world that actually works. Today we possess the strongest and most biomimetic hands in the world.”
Their next product will be a “humanoid torso that works where people work.”
Radhakrishnan explains that the torso will have an energy supply that “fits neatly inside a human skeletal torso. In addition, we will use the proceeds to start Clone’s brain team, with the focus of training our clones to learn to perform new manipulation tasks with only a few demonstrations from humans.”
While prosthetics are in the plan, it isn’t the first goal. This is because it will require an advanced neural interface, and Clone Robotics will have to grapple with regulatory approval before anything is released.
The company shared that they are focusing on the durability of the hand and miniaturisation of the power supply system. “Developing a suitable neural interface requires a lot of resources but is feasible. Once we develop the hardware for artificial limbs and the neural interface, bringing the prosthesis to market will not be a problem.”
So expect the delivery of your personal android to come by next year. We are officially going into very weird territory. Let’s hope we can backtrack if it all goes horribly wrong.