MagicLab’s humanoid robot showcases hand dexterity in everyday tasks

In order to expand the application scope of the Dexterous Hand, MagicLab engineers doubled down on research and development to hammer out a suite of innovations.

MagicLab, a Silicon Valley-based startup, is capturing the spotlight of the robotic world once again with the the Dexterous Hand functionality of its humanoid robot.

The company introduced its first-generation humanoid robot model in January this year, with a half-size, lower-body prototype capable of performing acrobatic stunts like front flips.

This time around, MagicLab has taken the motion control of its robot to the next level. The MagicBot, a full-size humanoid model developed by the startup, comes with highly dexterous hands similar to those of Tesla’s Optimus.

In a new video published by the startup, the MagicBot is seen performing a sequence of tasks designed to test the nimbleness of its hands.

In the first scene, the robot, which was teleoperable, picks a skewer to impale a marshmallow and place it at the top. It then roasts it over a barbecue grill.

In the following scene, apparently modeled after Tesla Bot’s shirt-folding video, the MagicBot neatly folds baby clothes and chucks it into a basket.

The ability to dance to strong music is now considered as a litmus test for nearly all humanoid robots. The MagicBot doe not just score well on that one. Instead, it exceeds expectations about its motion control capabilities by proceeding to water a plant.

With great attention to detail, engineers behind the robot deliberately program it to complete the chore with gentle touches to the leaves, to drive home the point that the robot is unmistakably akin to a human.

In the final scene, is takes on the role of a magician, by turning an egg into a ball.

The video highlights the unparalleled performance of MagicBot in small object manipulation and by extension, its versatility across a rich variety of everyday scenarios with human-like dexterity and smoothness.

In order to expand the application scope of the Dexterous Hand, MagicLab engineers doubled down on research and development to hammer out a suite of innovations.

Each robotic hand features a combination of miniature high-torque servo actuators and sensitive multi-dimensional pressure sensors, setting it apart from other robots with five-finger dexterous hands.

The six miniaturized servo actuators allow for various object manipulations, providing users with an intuitive and rapid handling experience.

The exceptional control exhibited by the Dexterous Hand is made possible by micro-precision motion components and high-performance servo control technology unique to MagicLab.

Boasting sub-millimeter positioning accuracy and a load capacity of several kilograms, the hand can grasp objects of different shapes, sizes, weights, and substance, including fragile, slippery, or deformable items.

Synchronous coordination

The hand’s advanced kinematic architecture, with six degrees of freedom and 12 motion joints, enables it to replicate around 70% of all human hand gestures, according to MagicLab.

From clenched fists to open palms, pointing to pinching, the robot’s hands are designed for specialized, industrial, and service applications, ranging from hazardous material handling to public service and domestic operations.

Complementing the Dexterous Hand’s functionality, MagicLab’s robot incorporates Whole Body Control (WBC) algorithms. This full-body dynamics planning and control system ensures synchronous coordination of the robot’s movements, and helps to maintain its balance.

In a prior video that emphasizes its humanoid robot’s acrobatic prowess, MagicLab highlighted its expertise in lower-body kinematics and motor control.

The recent demonstration of the Dexterous Hand adds the finishing touches to a set of skills encompassing both the upper and lower body of its humanoid robot.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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