A research team comprising of members from Northeastern University, The Catholic University of America, and Disney Research Pittsburgh have developed a robotic system that operates using “a new type of hydrostatic transmission that uses a hybrid air-water configuration,” according to Disney Research. It is able to accomplish the high stiffness of water-filled transmission using half the amount of hydraulic lines, meaning it can more closely approximate human motion. What’s more, the robot is also hptic, meaning it can send the pressure of each contact to the user controlling the robot. This allows hard and soft objects to actually be “felt” by the controller.
But what excites MDT most about Disney’s robot occurs about a minute into the video, where the robot is able to flawlessly thread a needle. Now I’m not suggesting that Disney intends to use this particular robot for surgical procedures, but it would certainly come in handy, considering the range and ease of motion, and haptic feedback. See for yourself below!