Tencent showcases robotic ‘bartender’ able to perform acrobatics

This series of coherent, complex, and delicate actions demonstrates the overall capabilities of Tencent Robotics X laboratory in the development of the robotic body, perception, and control technology.

Tencent’s Robotics X laboratory unveiled its self-developed robotic hand TRX-Hand and robotic arm TRX-Arm on April 25, showcasing the internet giant’s latest progress in robotics, especially their ability to execute delicate movement.

TRX-Hand, which is said to be as agile as human hands, can adapt to different scenarios, flexibly plan actions, and independently complete “operations.”

Meanwhile, TRX-Arm, developed for human environments, has seven degrees of freedom and humanoid characteristics, with features such as dexterity, strong explosive power, touch-control integration, and softness and compliance.

To illustrate this new technology, Tencent demonstrated how the robot can act as a bartender and perform more than 30 continuous operations with multiple objects to prepare a single cocktail.

This requires a high level of precision, stability, and fault tolerance from the robot’s body, perception, and control.

The process is difficult for it involved a variety of common objects such as bottles, glasses, and stirrers, which the robot had to manipulate to complete multiple actions, including grabbing, releasing, pouring, rotating, shaking, and more complex actions such as tossing, flipping, piercing, stirring, and other fine and delicate actions.

This series of coherent, complex, and delicate actions demonstrates the overall capabilities of Tencent Robotics X laboratory in the development of the robotic body, perception, and control technology.

In terms of motion capacity, thanks to innovative hybrid rigidity and flexibility driving patent technology and self-developed high power density drivers, TRX-Hand possesses high dexterity and high payload.

It has eight independently controllable joints, weighs only 1.16 kg, and can apply up to 15 Newtons of continuous fingertip force.

The maximum joint speed is not less than 600 degrees per second, which allows it to easily handle objects of different shapes and sizes and perform high-dynamic tossing movements. At the same time, the flexible fingertip design effectively improves the finger’s resistance to impact.

In terms of perception, TRX-Hand has a self-developed high-sensitivity flexible tactile sensor array that covers the fingertips, finger pads, and palm surfaces. The palm has a built-in miniature lidar and proximity sensor.

And each joint integrates an angle sensor to ensure accurate perception of the robot itself and target object during grasping and operation.

Tencent Robotics X laboratory has also modeled and calibrated different sensors, using multi-sensor information fusion technology, to enable robots to identify object, sense their own status, and perform physical interactions with the environment in a more comprehensive and timely fashion, thereby completing tasks with higher reliability.

Robots are a comprehensive technology that requires not only high requirements for the hardware parts, but also software algorithms, which are the core of the robot, said Tencent.

According to researchers, the robots debuted by Tencent were developed by combining a six-degree-of-freedom industrial robotic arm with the flexible robot hand TRX-Hand and self-developed perception and control algorithms, allowing the robot to smoothly complete a series of operations.

For mundane actions such as grasping and pouring, the robot first performs real-time object recognition and positioning based on vision and touch.

It then figures out the best arm and hand configuration and safe motion trajectory using online planned algorithms. During the execution, the robot uses the three sensors on its hand to make adaptive adjustments, further ensuring the accuracy and stability of its operations.

In addition to TRX-Hand, Tencent Robotics X Lab also introduced for the first time TRX-Arm, a high-performance humanoid robot arm with seven degrees of freedom.

Unlike traditional cobots, TRX-Arm employs a combination of rope transmission and differential drive, reducing transmission friction and movement inertia while achieving coordinated multi-motor and multi-joint driving. The robot can reach a maximum speed of 7.4 m/s and a maximum acceleration of 44.5 m/s2, with a payload of over 6 kg.

According to researchers, the lab will continue to advance the integration of the TRX-Hand and TRX-Arm, introducing cutting-edge algorithms such as deep learning to enhance the robots’ dexterity and problem-solving abilities.

The lab aims to build a future where humans and machines can coexist, collaborate, and thrive. Previously, the lab has launched various self-developed robots, including Max, a multimodal quadruped robot, and Ollie, a wheel-legged robot.

Tencent plans to further explore the frontiers in robotics and promote the practical application of robots in areas such as elderly care, home services, and intelligent manufacturing.

The story was written by ChatGPT and slightly edited for clarity and style.

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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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