Swiss scientists have created a robot which is the first man-made system to make and use tools without human intervention.
Once thought to be a unique skill of humans, tool manufacture and use has been found in an increasing number of animals such as birds and monkeys.
Liyu Wang, of the Bio-Inspired Robotics Lab, and colleagues developed a robot capable of building and using a range of tools – including a scooping tool and several types of grippers – which it then used to pick up water, rice and a pebble.
The work is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
The paper studies mechanics and energetics aspects of tool manufacture and use in non-human beings.
The robot is capable of additively manufacturing scoop and gripper structures from thermoplastic adhesives to pick and place fluid and solid objects, mimicking primates and birds manufacturing tools for a similar function.
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