Seriously dexterous robots are right around the corner.

It was only a matter of time before scientists designed robots with dexterity at least as good as that of humans. It is all to do with a field called perceptual decision-making. Humans are brilliant at deciding, completely unconsciously, how to pick up objects of whatever sort, size and shape. By the time (milliseconds later) they pick it up, they already know how and with what pressure to do so. Researchers in California have now come up with a robot design that can make the same sort of judgements in as little as 80 milliseconds. Moreover, researchers in Singapore have developed an artificial skin that enables the robot to work out what it is touching, again at incredibly high speeds. Unsurprisingly, deep learning has facilitated such developments. The robots will revolutionise stacking and picking jobs in shops, logistics centres and factories. Traditionally, humans have done such jobs. It will not be long before robots do them instead.

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