Leave it to a bunch of nerds to invent a robot to do something athletic.
Scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, for us anglophones) have developed a robotic arm that can catch pretty much anything they throw at it.
So how did they do it? Well just like any good athlete knows (these guys probably Googled it), practice makes perfect. By literally leading the robotic hand by er, hand, scientists taught the arm to predict where objects hurled through the air would end up. The result: this thing snatches anything tossed in it’s vicinity (which for now appears to be mostly water bottles).
Researchers say the arm’s first real practical use may be found in space where it could catch orbiting debris that’s potentially hurtling towards earth. Outside of that, they’re hoping the arm could eventually take over behind the wheel of driverless vehicles or act as a safety net for the more clumsy members of the population.
To see a video of this thing in action, head over to Engadget.