Lobsters never took over the world because their claws are terrible at grasping. It's the same reason deep sea divers, especially those that venture so far down that they require Atmospheric Dive Suits to keep from imploding, have such difficulty manipulating their tools at depth — the suits' conventional lobster-like "prehensor" grippers are complete rubbish. But these new robo-gloves from MIT startup Vishwa Robotics will offer divers superior, Ninja Turtle-esque grip even 20,000 leagues below the sea.
Using an set of ADS prehensors is often compared to using a pair of unwieldy chopsticks. Tasks that are second nature, like picking up a bolt, suddenly require alien dexterity to perform, and movements like squeezing the trigger of a power drill are downright impossible. The Extensor glove from Cambridge, MA-based Vishwa Robotics combines elements of exosuit and prosthetic technologies to produce a remotely-controlled robot hand — it's just that you control remotely it from about 6 inches away.
It's just like this, I'm not even kidding
Developed for use by the US Navy for deep sea salvage and recovery operations, the Extensor utilizes a glove-like user interface that integrates force-feedback to inform the user as to how much pressure is being exerted. The exterior hand offers three degrees of movement at the wrist and four more degrees for each of its stubby fingers. Its shape is closer to that of a half-shelled hero than a human, though that is by design. Since the last two fingers on your hand don't do much beyond support the bigger three they would only serve to hinder the Extensor's movement.
The Navy has announced its intention to affix these manageable manipulators not only to every ADS in its armory (and maybe the ISS spacewalk suits) but also integrate them with existing deep-diving UUV platforms to potentially develop highly-dextrous demining drones. [Vishwa Robotics via PopSci]